Ashwin is out

"I'm feeling good I made it to the championship finals," said Ashwin Veermani (Speller 188), whose sister - Anamika Veermani - won the Bee in 2010. "I'm having a good time."

Ashwin said his parents aren't putting any pressure on him, but that he wanted to do better this year than last, when he didn't make the finals.

"I feel great I was able to make it," he said. "I studied a lot harder. ...I feel more confident, better."

It won't tell its weight

Alia Abiad (Speller 58), a Western Springs, Illinois eighth grader, practices her spelling while walking at the treadmill desk her dad built for her and listening to podcasts, like Radio Lab, This American Life and The Moth.

Alia tied for 19th last year. Since she's started studying on her own, her parents are less tired, she said.

"It's been really great and really interesting," Alia said. "It's been a roller coaster."

Alia misspelled "irbis," a snow leopard. But she made the crowd laugh before she did, and was eliminated.

To Disney World!

Mary Horton (Speller 43) is decked out for the Bee.

She's wearing a bee necklace her aunt gave her and even got a manicure so her fingernails are black-and-yellow striped.

Mary, a West Melbourne, Florida eighth grader, is a Spelling Bee legacy. She's the third in her family to compete in the Bee. This is Mary's second year, though the first time she's made it to the finals; her brother Jonathan competed for three years - he tied for 6th in 2006 and 8th in 2007 - and her sister Deborah competed in 2009 and 2010.

Jacob is out

"I know it!" Jacob Williamson (Speller 38) exclaimed.

But he spelled "kabaragoya" with a C instead of a K. The word means a large aquatic lizard of southeastern Asia, the Malay archipelago, and the Philippines that sometimes reaches a length of seven feet.

Jacob, an eighth grader in Cape Coral, Florida, is out.

"I thought I knew that word, but I guess I didn't," he said. "It was a lot of fun, I got a lot of fun out of it. I'm going to go home and remember this always."

On to more esoteric words

"Obviously," Tejas Muthusamy (Speller 263) said when he misspelled "hallenkirche" to be eliminated from the Bee.

Tejas, the youngest finalist, is in fifth grade in Glen Allen, Virginia.

Before the finals, he said he never expected to make the finals.

"I feel ecstatic right now," he said. "It's really hard to express in words, I'm so happy."

Tejas said he had only prepared for the preliminary rounds -- and in the future would study more esoteric words.

Horror movie time

"Oh, that was my first guess," Kate Miller (Speller 232) said upon misspelling "exochorion," the outer of the two layers that form the hardened covering of an insect egg.

The Abilene, Texas eighth grader gave a princess wave as she walked off stage and flopped onto the couch. With her free time, she said, she's going to watch "every horror movie on which I can get my hands."

Kate competed in 2012 and 2013.

Before the finals, Kate said getting to this point was like a dream.

Potato, Potahto

Gokul Venkatachalam (Speller 139) drew laughs from the crowd with his pronunciation of his word, "guttatim" -- the various pronunciations rhymed with potato and potahto. It means drop by drop and is used in prescriptions.

The Chesterfield, Missouri seventh grader tied for 10th place in 2012 and 19th place in 2013.