Francis student headed to National Spelling Bee finals

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The finals began Thursday morning and continue with live coverage from 7:30-9:30 p.m. on ESPN. She's one of 40-students vying for the $40,000 grand prize. "She made it so far", Maia's mom, Antonia Marshall, said Wednesday.

This years event features the youngest competitor to ever qualify for the event, Edith Fuller of Tulsa, Okla., who is 6 and did not make the finals though she correctly spelled her two words on stage.

Weeded down from a starting field of 291 contestants on Wednesday in the 90th national Bee, the finalists face off at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in suburban Washington. Ba was eliminated because she did not score high enough on a written spelling test that was administered on Tuesday.

Gandhasri was among 40 spellers to advance to Thursday's final rounds.

This year's contest is operating under a new set of rules created to prevent it from ending in a tie for the fourth year in a row.

He got through the preliminary round and then spelled "sternum" correctly in round two.

"I do if I don't win this time, " she said.

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"They're all excited to know someone that's going to the national spelling bee because it's like".

His parents - Siva Rajamanickam and Sridevi Kumaravelu - said they were excited for their son to face the best in the country, particularly because he is relatively new to competitive spelling. The Fort Defiance girl missed her first word.

Melodie was at the competition with her mother, Debbie Loya, and coach and cheerleader Martha Ryan, public and school liaison for the Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego BOCES. She wants to play tennis and is excited to take photography electives. Both she and her husband, Nanda Natarajan, help Kumar study for the competition.

"We've been having a good time sightseeing and having a lot of fun while we're here", Amy Blackburn said.

And Maia's earned that break.

"I glanced at [the list] and looked at it once or twice, but I'm not as hardcore into the competitive sport as some kids are", he said.

Maia and her mom will attend the spelling bee finals on Thursday.