Faith Baca of Aurora, an eighth-grader at the Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning, successfully spelled "sempiternal", which means eternal and unchanging.
Snehaa Ganesh Kumar, who was too old to compete this year, placed third in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2016. She spelled "tapas:" correctly on Wednesday, but did not get enough points to continue to Thursday's competition.
Spelling is important for all students because it helps get good scores on college entrance exams, helps in learning foreign languages and expands vocabularies, he said.
Rohan Rajeev, of Edmond, Oklahoma, did advance to the finals, however. "She made it so far", Maia's mom, Antonia Marshall, said Wednesday.
"I just want to praise Jesus for getting me here", Rajeev said.
The preliminary round of the national event was on Tuesday. And like the polished spellers who fare best, she repeated the word several times and calmly asked for the definition and language of origin.
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"She's met so many people here", Debbi Mills said.
This year's 291 spellers come from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Department of Defense Schools in Europe. The competition will resume with the championship rounds, 5:30-7:30 p.m. on ESPN.
The victor - or winners - will take home $40,000 in cash, a trophy and other prizes.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals will begin Thursday at 10 a.m. and can be watched on ESPN2.
A Maui student says she's disappointed that she didn't make it to the finals in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but wouldn't trade the experience.
While in Washington D.C., he said he visited many fascinating places including an air and space museum.