Update: 12-year-old Ananya Vinay from Fresno has been crowned the national spelling champ — the first time in four years the competition has had a solo winner. Her winning word was "marocain," a heavy crepe fabric. Vinay was the youngest finalist.
After a day of rigorous verbiage, 40 spellers — whittled down from 291 — made it to the final round of the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee. Thursday morning, that was trimmed down to a lean, mean 15.
They're vying for the $40,000 grand prize — and the glory of being crowned C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N.
Two of the top 40 come from Southern California.
Aisha Randhawa, a sixth-grader at Garretson Elementary School in Corona, correctly spelled "pentalogy" and "bidialectal" in earlier rounds. But on Thursday, she misspelled "dimity" — a sheer cotton fabric woven with raised stripes or checks — and was knocked out in the first round.
This isn't Randhawa's first rodeo. She's Riverside County's two-time defending spelling bee champion. Last year, she tied for 22nd place in the national bee.
Randhawa hopes to one day become an ophthalmologist. She's a big fan of public radio and says her favorite show is "Radiolab."
Daniel Chen, an eighth-grader at Loving Savior Lutheran School in Chino Hills, made it past the first round of the finals, correctly spelling "perinephric." In the next round, he flubbed "carosella" (a type of fennel), replacing the "O" with an "I." Like Randhawa, Chen also competed in last year's national bee.
Only one competitor from California remains in the top 15: Ananya Vinay, a sixth grader from Fresno.
Of the top 4o, 10 came from Southern California:
- Haley Jeffers (Camarillo)
- Jennifer Lau (Torrance)
- Winston Zuo (Yorba Linda)
- Briandria Starks (Bakersfield)
- Folau Holi (Fort Irwin)
- Daniel Chen (Chino Hills)
- Yash Hande (San Diego)
- Shubhokkan Chakma (San Bernardino)
- Nathan Ostermann (El Centro)
- Aisha Randhawa (Corona)
The final 15 spellers continue Thursday evening in the last round, which begins at 5:30 p.m. and airs on ESPN.