So far, so good for the five Minnesotans who are among hundreds of kids from around the nation and a handful of other countries competing Tuesday in Round 2 of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Representing Minnesota among the 562 competitors at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center near Washington, D.C.: eighth-grader Gavin Starr, of Lester Prairie Schools; Forestview Middle School seventh-grader Hannah Moddes, of Baxter; Pacelli Catholic School eighth-grader Neha Thawani Nanda, of Austin; Le Sueur-Henderson eighth-grader Alayna Vogel of Le Sueur; and Lake Middle School sixth-grader Annika Kim, of Woodbury.
All the Minnesotans got their first words correct Tuesday. Among the competitors, 518 who got through Round 2, while 44 were eliminated. Competition resumed later Tuesday afternoon with Round 3, which continued into Wednesday.
Starr spelled "gastrolith," a stone or pebble ingested by an animal and functioning to grind food in gastric digestion; Moddes spelled "legislatorial," of or relating to a legislator, legislature, or legislation; Thawani Nanda spelled "conticent," silent; Vogel spelled "ufology," the study of UFOs; and Kim spelled "fusilli," a spiral-shaped variety of pasta.
The youngsters, ages 7 to 15 ranging from first to eighth grade, began their week in Round 1 on Monday with a multiple-choice test and took the stage one-by-one Tuesday in hopes of ending up in Thursday's finals, which will be broadcast live that night on ESPN.
The first-place prize is $50,000, but in the event of a tie, the co-champions would split the first- and second-place money and take home $37,500 apiece.
The winner also receives a Merriam-Webster reference library and $2,500. In addition, the champ travels to New York for an appearance on TV's "Live with Kelly and Ryan" and to Hollywood for a segment on ABC-TV's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
More than 11 million students participated months ago in classroom and school bees before advancing to local bees that were coordinated by news media outlets, community organizations and universities.
The National Spelling Bee started in 1925 with nine contestants. Minnesota has had one national champion, Sean Conley, of Shakopee, in 2001.
Karthik Nemmani, 14, of McKinney, Texas, won the 2018 bee after correctly spelling "koinonia."