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Speller felled by 'myriad'

ATLANTA - Sitting in the audience, writing the words with her mom by her side, Creekland Middle School eighth-grader Kari Burden did pretty well in the state spelling bee.

It was when she was on stage that her fortunes weren't as great.

Eliminated in the third round on the word "myriad," Kari said she actually felt good after leaving the competition.

"To be honest, I didn't really want to have the hassle," she said. "I have a very busy life."

Kari, who was Gwinnett's entrant into the state spelling bee, bested other contestants in the regional bee last month by spelling words such as "innavigable" and "umbilical" correctly.

Friday, she spelled "biblical," "enthusiasm" and "neologism" before being eliminated.

Clarke County's Cathy Deng won the competition after spelling "tergiversate" and "chrestomathy" correctly in succession. Deng was originally eliminated from the competition after misspelling "concomitant," but the judges decided after a protest that she had first mispronounced the word and let her back in the bee.

Cathy will represent the state in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. later this year. Fayette County's Logan Austin was the runner-up.

Kari, who dances ballet in addition to spelling, said she learned a lot from the competition. After texting a friend in New York to tell her she had been eliminated, Kari said she planned to spend her afternoon shopping at the Mall of Georgia.

"I had a good time and pretty much, that's all that matters," she said.

Kari's mother, Janet Burden, said she and her brother used to compete in spelling bees as well. After three appearances, the highest the elder Burden placed was 14th in the county bee. She said she is proud that her daughter carried on the spelling tradition.

In sixth grade, Kari won the Georgia Association of Christian Schools' spelling bee. She was the fourth person eliminated in Friday's bee.

"It's kind of a legacy thing," Burden said. "I think she's probably better than I ever was."