Twelve expert spellers will face off in the finals of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee, which gets underway 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday on ESPN. If you won’t be near a television and want to catch the excitement (while also playing along with the contestants), the sports network is airing a play-along version of the finals over at ESPN3, which you can check out here.
The 12 finalists were announced Thursday afternoon, giving the spellers just hours to prepare for the nationally televised finals. Here’s a list of the finalists, according to the National Spelling Bee’s Twitter account:
· Samuel Pereles
· Neha Konakalla
· Gokul Venkatachalam
· Tejas Muthusamy
· Kate Miller
· Tajuan Gibbison
· Mary Horton
· Ashwin Veeramani
· Ansun Sujoe
· Jacob Williamson
· Alia Abiad
· Sriram Hathwar
The spellers will compete to succeed New York City’s Arvind Mahankali as the National Spelling Bee champion. Mahankali won by spelling “knaidel,” a word of Yiddish origin that is a synonym for matzah ball, the dumpling made of matzah meal, eggs, chicken fat and other ingredients.
The national competition started with 281 spellers ranging in age from 8 to 15, according to statistics on the official National Spelling Bee website. The majority of spellers attend public schools (67 percent) while 18.5 percent attend private schools. Parochial school spellers comprise 6.8 percent of the field while 3.9 percent are home-schooled and 3.2 percent attend charter schools.
A little more than a quarter of all spellers have appeared in the national bee before, including Hathwar, who is making his fifth appearance in the bee. Fifty-nine spellers are appearing the competition for a second time.
Veeramani, one of this year’s finalists, is one of two spellers who had a sibling win the bee.