WASHINGTON — Twelve young spellers, including a boy from Cape Coral, have made the championship finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, a group that surprisingly includes only one repeat finalist.
Last year’s third-place finisher, 14-year-old Sriram Hathwar of Corning, New York, will compete against 11 newcomers in the finals tonight.
Among them will be first-time participant Jacob Williamson, a home-schooled eighth-grader from Cape Coral in Lee County. Jacob sunk to his knees and pounded the stage after hearing his name called among the finalists.
Jacob, the oldest finalist at 15, said he was shocked that he made the cut and three-time finalist Vanya Shivashankar did not.
The highly touted Shivashankar, of Olathe, Kansas, whose older sister won the 2009 bee, was bounced in the semifinals. She spelled both words correctly onstage but didn’t score highly enough on two computerized spelling and vocabulary tests to advance.
Tonight’s finals will be televised live at 8 by ESPN.