If you want to watch preteens prove they are smarter than you are, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is for you.
This year's event started with 281 spellers from all 50 states and as well as various United States territories. These competitors had to go through multiple preliminary steps just to get on stage, and the early rounds knocked even more people out of the competition.
Still, the young challengers did everything they could to remain in contention for the $30,000 prize given to the winner.
However, sometimes getting all of your words right in the oral portion of the event is not enough. The total points between the on-stage competition and the written test are added together to allow for only a handful of semifinalists.
Brian Francisco of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette describes the difficulty of getting to the next stage:
You can also take a look at the words used in the third round to see how well you would have done.
After all of Wednesday's events, there were only 41 competitors remaining for the upcoming semifinals.
Full List of Semifinalists (via SpellingBee.com)
|Gokul Venkatachalam||Rachael Cundey||Syamantak Payra|
|Mary Geneve Skirvin||Audrey M. Bantug||Pranav Sivakumar|
|Ryan Devanandan||Katharine S. Wang||Shobha Dasari|
|Matthew Richard Donohue||Sriram J. Hathwar||Piper Wynne Winkler|
|Grace Remmer||Kuvam Nirad Shahane||Himanvi Kopuri|
|Ronan Howlett||Sophia Limacher||Alia Abiad|
|Amber Born||Anuk Dayaprema||Christopher O'Connor|
|Isabel Cholbi||Christal Schermeister||Arvind V. Mahankali|
|Emma Greenlee||Caleb Miller||Eva Kitlen|
|Shayley Martin||Joseph Cusi Delamerced||Aditya Mohankumar Rao|
|Vanya Shivashankar||Chetan G. Reddy||Emily Keaton|
|Neha Seshadri||Margaret Flaherty Peterson||Lucas Michael Urbanski|
|Vismaya J. Kharkar||Hannah Michele Citsay||Joseph Kirkpatrick|
|Ashwin Veeramani||Jonathan Caldwell|
Arvind Mahankali Cruises Through
After finishing in third place in each of the past two years, Arvind Mahankali is ready to win the entire event this time around.
He had a perfect score in the written test and spelled each of his words correctly in the oral portion. Unless something goes wrong, this is his contest to lose, at least according to Shane Ryan of Grantland:
Hopefully, he is able to fulfill his expectations this year.
Every competitor in this event had to work hard to get here, but a few have displayed this effort over a long period of time. There are 63 people who were here last year, seven of them have done this four times or more.
Arvind Mahankali and Grace Remmer are in the four-year group and each had perfect scores heading into the semifinals.
Rachael Cundey and Emily Keaton are participating in their fifth career Spelling Bee, and are also still alive in the contest and are looking to compete for the title. This impressed Natalie DiBlasio of USA Today:
It is clear that the experience has helped to this point, but only time will tell if one of these competitors can win it all.
Youngest in Field Does Not Make Semis
With ESPN cameras all over the place and the nation watching, it is tough to focus with this much pressure. It has to be that much harder for an eight-year-old girl.
Tara Singh was the youngest person in the competition, which led to even more attention than usual, via @ScrippsBee:
Unfortunately, she was unable to advance to the next round:
Hopefully, Singh will do better the next time out.