Out of more than a million kids, 2 Alaskans place high in national spelling championship

Grace Parrott, of Ketchikan (left), and Daniel Doudnavo, of Fairbanks (right) placed high in...
Grace Parrott, of Ketchikan (left), and Daniel Doudnavo, of Fairbanks (right) placed high in this year's National Spelling Bee. (KTUU)
Published: May. 30, 2018 at 1:35 PM AKDT
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More than a million young students competed to reach the final stage of the biggest nation-wide spelling competition.

Out of those hopeful, two children hailing from Alaska competed Wednesday to clear the last trial stage on the way to the top spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The most recent round took place in National Harbor, Maryland, whittling the field from 452 elementary and middle school age kids down to less than 50.

Daniel Doudnavo, of Fairbanks, and Grace Parrott, of Ketchikan, both took to the stage for their round 3 live spelling.

Both of them cleared two words each Wednesday, successfully spelling them in front of a crowd on the main stage. However, despite nailing their words, the two didn't make the final cut of the televised top 41 spellers.

That's because, in order to move on to the final round, Grace and Daniel (and the rest of the top contenders), had to score high on a written test that they took Tuesday, in addition to getting their Wednesday words correct.

In an interview Thursday, Daniel told KTUU that despite his feeling comfortable and successfully spelling his words, he didn't have high hopes to win.

Daniel said his overall run wouldn't likely extend beyond the third stage on Wednesday, due to the challenging written test.

"I'm trying to remain optimistic," Daniel said. "But I don't really think that I'm going to make it. Seeing the test score kind of convinced me that I'm not going to make it."

In the end, that rang true, and Daniel didn't make the cut of the top 41. Despite that, he said it wouldn't stop him from having fun and enjoying the experience.

As for Grace, who, like Daniel, also spelled her two words correctly but did not score high enough to make the final cut, she was thankful she made it as far as she did.

"It just made me really happy, because I know that all the people back home support me and want me to be here and are so proud that I got to do this," Grace said Wednesday. "And are probably even more proud now because I got through the third round, I survived, and thank you for helping me get here."

Despite the two Alaskans getting knocked out before the finals, they still placed remarkably high out of a very competitive spelling field.

Next, those 41 who did make the cut will proceed to the first part of the finals. That is scheduled for Thursday morning on ESPN 2. A photo of those finalists was posted on the National Spelling Bee's Twitter account.