Local spelling champ exits in Scripps National Spelling Bee semifinal

File photo of Erik Williams

When local spelling champ Erik Williams punched his ticket to the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee, he looked to improve upon his 2019 performance when he finished in 51st place.

And that’s exactly what he did. During Sunday evening’s semifinals, Williams correctly spelled “traditive,” a term used to describe unwritten knowledge passed down over the ages. His excitement was visible one round later when he nailed the correct definition of “in situ,” a Latin term meaning “in its original position.”

But that excitement was short-lived. The final round spelled trouble for the 13-year-old St. Johns Country Day School student, who saw his remarkable run come to an end when he misspelled “orismology,” the word that describes the science of defining technical terms.

RELATED: Three-peat: Erik Williams wins First Coast Spelling Bee | Force 4 Good: Williams moves on to semifinals

“O-R-Y-S-M-O-L-O-G-Y,” Williams said moments before a chime rang, signaling an incorrect answer.

In the end, the 8th grader from Fleming Island finished 12th overall at the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Even in defeat, however, there was cause for celebration, as one of the bee’s hosts pointed out.

“Erik, just know it’s not just your sponsor, WJXT News 4, that’s proud of you but so many people that are watching and know you,” the host told Williams. “You’ve done a great job, and congratulations.”

And while the result might not have been what he hoped for, Williams has plenty to be proud of. After all, he finished 12th overall in the nation after picking up three consecutive wins in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 First Coast Spelling Bees.