WASHINGTON – Forty-six of the nation's best young spellers have taken the stage for the nerve-jangling semifinal rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
No more than 12 will advance to the finals Thursday evening. They'll have to spell two words correctly in front of a national television audience and then hope their score on a computerized spelling and vocabulary test is high enough to make the cut.
The semifinalists include last year's third-place finisher, 14-year-old Sriram Hathwar of Corning, New York, and two other finalists from 2013: 12-year-old Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, and 13-year-old Syamantak Payra of Friendswood, Texas. Syamantak and 13-year-old Mary Horton of West Melbourne, Florida, tied for highest score on the computer test.
The semifinals are broadcast live on ESPN2.