Princess Anne teen heading to National Spelling Bee

PRINCESS ANNE — Erin Welch, the winner of the 2017 Maryland Eastern Shore Regional Spelling Bee sponsored by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, is heading to Washington, D.C., this Sunday, May 28 to represent Maryland’s four Lower Shore counties in the 2017 Scripps National Bee.

She will be speller #24 and will be among the first on stage Wednesday morning at 8 a.m., May 31 to try and spell a qualifying word.

The preliminaries on Wednesday the 31st are streamed live on ESPN3. The finals starting 10 a.m. Thursday, June 1 are live on ESPN2 and continue 8:30 p.m. live on ESPN. Spellers can be tracked at There is also and

On her fourth try at UMES the eighth-grader who attends St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Salisbury defeated 26 other competitors during the regional event held in March. The 13-year-old was twice before a runner-up. Her “championship” word was “solvency” and her closest competitor was a fifth grader from Pemberton Elementary School in Salisbury, Isabel Mena.

A sixth-grader from Somerset Intermediate School, James “Jake” Gordy, was third.

Sofie Welch, Erin’s mother, said Erin was intent on finishing her career as a competitive speller by winning the 2017 event. Only students in grades three through eight are eligible under Scripps National Spelling Bee rules.

“She was practicing 400 words an hour, at one point,” Mrs. Welch said. “We are so proud of her.”

Rob Costante, Erin’s principal, said “no one is more deserving than Erin. She is a terrific student and takes challenges like this one seriously.”

Among those in Welch’s cheering section was two-time Maryland Eastern Shore Regional Spelling Bee champion, Gia Bautista, who is a family friend.

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