Fourteen Indian American kids have made it to the semi finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee contest with three of them among top contenders for the title won by a boy of Indian descent last year.
Indian origin kids who were among the 41 making the semi-final grade Wednesday included 13-year-old Sidharth Chand of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan who was the runner up last year, when Sameer Mishra of Lafayette, Indiana, won with the word "guerdon".
Sidharth Chand spelled "springerle" to get in. So did two other hot favourites Kavya Shivashankar, 13, of Olathe, Kansas with "mesophilic" and Vaibhav Vavilala, 14, of Indianapolis, Indiana with "attritus".
Kavya participated in the 2006, 2007, and 2008 national finals - tying for 10th, 8th, and 4th place, respectively. Vaibhav participated in the 2005, 2007, and 2008 national finals, tying for 17th place in 2008. His brother, Vikas, participated in the 2006 national finals.
Also making the semi-finals was nine-year-old Sriram Hathwar, a third grade student from Corning, New York, who was the youngest contestant in the history of the event in the 2008 national finals.
The finals will be held Thursday night, broadcast live by ABC-TV.
Others who hit the mark of 28 points or better to advance to Thursday morning's semifinals, were Ramya Auroprem, Aishwarya Pastapur, Avvinash Radakrishnan, Neetu Chandak, Siraj Sindhu, Anamika Veeramani, Sukanya Roy, Akshay Raghuram, Mouctika Paluri and Aditya Chemudupaty.
The Bee began Tuesday with 293 spellers - the most in the history of the event.
The way the Spelling Bee works, all 293 spellers took a written exam Tuesday that represented Round 1. Then, Wednesday, every speller got to compete in Rounds 2 and 3 - each getting a word to spell in each round. Then those results were counted along with the results of Tuesday's tests.