Culver City middle schooler makes it to national spelling bee finals

CULVER CITY, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A 13-year-old at Culver City Middle School was a finalist at the 89th Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday in Maryland, but he faltered on his second word and was eliminated from the competition.

Eight-grader Cooper Komatsu was one of 10 contestants to advance to the finals at the
Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor.

Cooper began the day by correctly spelling cacomixl, a catlike mammal found in southern North America, related to but smaller than a raccoon. He went on to correctly spell: glaucothoe, a young hermit crab; buccal, an adjective meaning related to the mouth; and rerebrace, a piece of armor protecting the upper arm.

In the ninth round of the finals, Cooper did not succeed on the spelling of illicium, a genus of flowering plant, knocking him out of the competition.

Cooper was among 45 spellers who advanced in the competition out of an initial field of 285 on Wednesday. The young teen was among the top scorers on a 26-question multiple-choice spelling and vocabulary test taken Tuesday.

Cooper qualified for the national bee on March 15 by winning the Los Angeles County Scripps Regional Spelling Bee for the second consecutive year.

Cooper is not the first in his family to compete at the prestigious competition. His maternal grandfather, Robert Rosenberg, competed in 1955.

The bee is limited to students in eighth grade or below, with contestants ranging in age from 6 to 15 years old.

The winner will receive a long list of prizes, including $40,000 from Scripps and a complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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