WASHINGTON (AP) - Twelve young spellers have made the championship finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, a group that surprisingly includes only one repeat finalist.
Last year's third-place finisher, 14-year-old Sriram Hathwar of Corning, New York, will compete against 11 newcomers in the finals Thursday evening.
The highly touted Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, a three-time finalist whose older sister won the 2009 bee, was bounced in Thursday's semifinals. She spelled both words correctly onstage but didn't score highly enough on two computerized spelling and vocabulary tests to advance.
First-time National Spelling Bee participant Jacob Williamson of Cape Coral, Florida, sunk to his knees and pounded the stage after hearing his name called among the finalists. He says he was shocked that he made it and that Vanya did not.