OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — The best of the best at the Scripps National Spelling Bee have begun the unforgiving final day of the competition.
The bee opened Tuesday with 291 spellers, the largest field in its 90-year history. By Wednesday afternoon, the field had been trimmed to 40 finalists, who will go on to compete on Thursday.
Those eliminated include 6-year-old Edith Fuller of Tulsa, Okla., the bee’s youngest-ever speller. Edith was only five when she qualified for the national competition.
The finalists were determined by two rounds of oral competition and their scores on a written spelling and vocabulary test they took Tuesday.
Forty spellers sat on stage at the beginning of Thursday’s final round. The field of 291 spellers was narrowed by a written test on Tuesday and spelling on stage on Wednesday. Among those who didn’t make the cut because of the test was 6-year-old Edith Fuller, the youngest speller in the history of the bee.
Spellers are competing for a trophy and more than $40,000 in cash and prizes. After three consecutive years of ties, the bee is likely to identify a sole champion this year because it added a tiebreaker test.
Once there are about 10 spellers left, the competition will pause until the primetime finale.