Five Minnesotans were among the 281 competitors in the preliminaries of the Scripps National Spelling Bee which began Wednesday morning. By the end of the day, only one of them was left in the competition.
Seventh-grader Mark Kivimaki, 13, of Valley View Middle School in Edina, is one of 46 participants advancing to the semifinal round on Thursday. Kivimaki correctly spelled the words "echt" (meaning real, authentic, genuine) and "proselyte" (meaning a convert, a true believer) in the two live rounds on Wednesday.
Competitors also took a written spelling and vocabulary test before the live rounds began, which was included in the calculation of their scores.
The other four Minnesota students who participated in the preliminary round are:
– Brainerd eighth-grader Lauren Crabtree, 14, of Forestview Middle School, who correctly spelled "chauvinism" and "veridical."
– Eighth-grader Shane DeSilva, 14, from Pacelli Catholic Schools in Austin, who correctly spelled "serdab" and "tiffen."
– Seventh-grader Alyssa Boynton, 13, from Murray County Central in Slayton, who correctly spelled "embarcadero" and missed the spelling of "haricot."
– Eighth-grader Kellen Rodriguez, 14, from the Fairmont School District, who correctly spelled "boswell" and missed the spelling of "equipollent."
Spelling bee festivities kicked off Tuesday night when the competitors received Microsoft Surface tablets at an introductory assembly, according to a news release on the spelling bee's website.
The semifinals begin Thursday at 9 a.m., airing on ESPN2, and the finals will begin Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Those interested can also watch online here or follow along on Twitter.
Speller #218 Hussain Godhrawala of South Carolina, who didn't make it into the semifinals, was the youngest speller in the competition at age 8. The spellers range in age from 8 to 15 years old, but more than 86 percent are between the ages of 12 and 14.
Minnesota has only had one winner in the bee since 1925: then-13-year-old Sean Conley, of Anoka, Minnesota, in 2001.
Last year, the victor was New Yorker Arvind Mahankali, who correctly spelled "knaidel." The last Minnesotan standing last year was Emma Greenlee, 14, an eighth-grader at Mesabi East High School in Aurora, who went out after misspelling “sarrusophone.”
Here’s a list of past winners.