Round two, 21 competitors smaller than the first, chewed through their vocabularies like a relentless scythe. “Regatta,” “graffiti” and “autobahn” knocked out contestants for minor mistakes. Lancaster’s Pinecrest Elementary School’s Nicole Lara drew “sayonara,” but her ability to correctly link its letters prevented her from having to bid it to the crowd. Controversy threatened to erupt in the sixth round, when Andrea Kizyma of Rosemont Middle School in Glendale correctly spelled “sarsaparilla,” but was confronted by an angry parent who vociferously contended that she was wrong. Her fellow spellers stuck up for her. The judges agreed. The mother shook her head in frustration. Play continued, taking out three competitors to bring the field to 16. Then the seventh round hit like a neutron bomb, introducing “endotracheal” and “calyx.” Getting knocked out in this round became a badge of honor, with 12 students bowing out. They erupted in cheers and hugged when it was over. Soon, it was just Josh Clark, 14, of Arroyo Seco Junior High in Santa Clarita, and Manning. Clark drew “buffa,” while Manning got “cuneiform.” He slipped up on “nascency,” then she came up correct on “abranchiate” and the tricky “echolalia” – and victory was hers. Clark led the ovation. “After awhile, it started being just random words,” said Manning, who attends a home-school group called Excellence in Education in Monrovia. “I didn’t know most of them – I was just guessing.” [email protected] (818) 713-3738160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Pronouncer Sharon Klein, a California State University, Northridge, associate professor of English, informed Manning that the word means “the pathological repetition of what is said by other people as if imitating them.” Emma repeated the word once and nailed its spelling, sealing her victory and propelling her on to the national competition in Washington, D.C. Fifty-six entrants filled the field of competition and things began easily enough. No one really trips on words like “burrito,” “paddock” or “Siberian.” “Magnanimous” claimed the first casualty, then “hassock” waylaid the kid three seats down. The crowd of teachers, parents and little brothers, dragged reluctantly, clutched videocameras and signs offering words of support. Fathers nodded along as their children worked through the treacherous words letter by letter. “Paprika,” “credenza” and “bayou” further thinned the ranks. Facing her greatest challenge in four years of competition, Emma Manning was nervous. Her family looked on in tremulous anticipation and Manning gulped down several quick breaths. Her voice cracked as she stood at the microphone. “Echolalia?” she said, more question than statement. “Definition, please?” This was it for the 14-year-old from Pasadena, her moment of glory or doom at the Daily News Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday. She’d survived nine rounds, nearly faltering early on “cummerbund,” only to hang in to the last.