Virginia Girl Youngest Contestant in Scripps National Spelling Bee History

Woodbridge 6-year-old competes in preliminary round

Tuesday, May 29, 2012  |  Updated 10:55 PM EDT
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A Virginia girl is making history this week as the youngest contestant to ever compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The bee is 87 years old, and contestant Lori Anne Madison, of Woodbridge, is 6. She talks a mile a minute and even studies words while jumping on her trampoline. She started reading when she was 2, her mother said.

She also has ambitious goals beyond spelling: She wants to swim in the Olympics and become an astrobiologist.

The oldest speller in the field of 278 is 15. Three finalists return from last year.

The spellers took a 50-word computerized test Tuesday, with 25 of the words counting toward their preliminary-round scores. Each competitor will spell two words onstage Wednesday, with three points for each correct word. That combined score will be used to narrow the field of semifinalists to no more than 50 spellers.

The semifinals and finals will be held Thursday at National Harbor.

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