OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Sixteen spellers advanced to the prime-time finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee after a marathon session that lasted nearly 5½ hours.
After more than three hours of spelling in the finals, 8 spellers remained by round 18. Dr. Bailly, who read the words and gave definitions to the spellers, announced they were in “uncharted territory” where they were running out of words that would challenge the most “storied assemblage of spellers in the history of the Bee.”
Bailly said that there would be three more rounds and that after round 20, whoever remained would share the title as a Co-Champions. 14-year-old Erin Howard of Huntsville correctly spelled the word ‘erysipelas’ to become a Co-Champion.
Two spellers made the prime-time finals for the third time: Erin Howard, and 13-year-old Shruthika Padhy of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
The winner will receive more than $50,000 in cash and prizes and a new, custom-designed trophy.
Other returning finalists are 12-year-old Abhijay Kodali of Flower Mound, Texas, who finished third last year; 13-year-old Navneeth Murali of Edison, New Jersey; 13-year-old Aisha Randhawa of Corona, California; 13-year-old Rohan Raja of Irving, Texas; and 13-year-old Simone Kaplan of Davie, Florida.
The words that Erin successfully spelled during Thursday evening’s championship rounds included: tophet, tinaja, pallone, meerschaum, jindyworobak, zamacueca, godet, Komondor, tulisan, calembour, and deixis.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.