The field is down to nine youngsters who are vying for the title of the best speller during the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The final round starts at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Lena Greenberg, a 14-year-old from Philadelphia full of enthusiasm, was the last speller to make the finals when she correctly spelled “cholecystitis,” — which is an inflammation of the gall bladder. She says she didn’t know the word but was able to piece it together.
The field also includes Gifton Wright of Spanish Town, Jamaica, who could become the second Jamaican winner in Scripps National Spelling Bee history. (Although it’s called a National Spelling Bee, the event draws contestants from around the world.)
Nicholas Rushlow of Pickerington, Ohio, who’s been in the bee every year since 2008, made the finals for the first time. Last summer, he spelled every word in the dictionary.
This year’s winner gets $30,000 in cash, a trophy, a $2,500 savings bond, a $5,000 scholarship, $2,600 in reference works from the Encyclopedia Britannica and an online language course.
Three 2011 championship finalists — Nabeel Rahman, Arvind Mahankali and Samuel Estep — are among this year’s field of competitors.
Parents and family members serve as coaches for 238 spellers.
This year’s group of competitors is 48.9% boys and 51.1% girls.
Math is named as a favorite subject by 110 of this year’s spellers. Science is the next most popular subject.
Here is a sampling of the words that the nine finalists have conquered thus far en route to tonight’s Spelling Bee Finals. The program airs from 8 to 10 p.m. on ESPN.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.