Local student undone by ‘Schwyzer’ in national bee

In the end it was a large brown cow from Switzerland that halted local eighth-grader Emma Steimle’s incredible run in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. To be more specific, in the fifth round of the national competition with fewer than 50 contestants left, Emma was stumped by Schwyzer, a word of Swiss and German origin defining a large brown milk cow.

With the clock ticking and cameras rolling on Thursday, Emma spelled it as schwietzer.

“I felt like it wasn’t that hard to guess. I totally ignored the fact that it was partly Swiss. I went based on the German, which is why I got it wrong,” she said.

She tied for 22nd place in a competition that featured 278 of the best spellers in the country. The event was held in Washington, D.C., and aired on ESPN channels Thursday.

Earlier in the week, the West Middle School student landed in the semifinal round through her combined scores in a computerized spelling test and two rounds of spelling on stage. She was among the 50 students who made it to the semifinal round.

On Thursday morning, she advanced from the fourth to the fifth round by spelling the word carpophore correctly.

“Not many people got out, so we knew the fifth round would be really hard,” she said.

Emma, who won the local Douglas County Spelling Bee and the regional competition, has dreamed of going to the national competition since sixth grade.

While Emma said she was disappointed that she wouldn’t be among the spellers competing in the final round Thursday night, there was one advantage to finishing the competition early.

“I’d still like to make it to the finals, but it is nice not to have to study anymore,” she said.