Vanya spells

We just watched a video of Vanya Shivashankar, speller 90, through the years. She's been attending the bee since 2006, when her sister first competed. Kavya was the 2009 champion.

This is Vanya's fifth bee as a speller. She spelled "consommé" correctly to stay in the competition.

The Jamaican speller

Sara-Beth McPherson, speller 87, is out on "agaric." She asked a number of questions and watched the clock count down.

"It was an honor and a good experience," she said of working with Rev. Glen Archer, the spelling coach who died this year. "I feel excited that I'm here."

A quick update

Monisha Mahadevan, speller 45, misspelled "rollmops" and is out.

"Are you ready?" Dr. Bailly asked Aniket Nuthalapati, speller 62.

"I think so," he said. He spelled "osteitic" to stay in.

And when Cy Orentlicher, speller 76, took the stage, he asked Dr. Bailly: "What are the choices for that?"

"You tell me," Dr. Bailly said.

"Fiiiiine," Cy replied. He spelled "capotasto" fine to stay in.

You have to get lucky

Before speller 16, Snehaa Ganesh Kumar, took the stage, she said she was nervous.

"I want to get into the finals. I've come this far," she said.

Snehaa correctly spelled "camarilla" as the clock counted down and the lights turned red.

"I've done the best I can," she said before taking the stage. "You have to get lucky, get a word you know."

One or the other

Cooper Komatsu, speller 13, correctly spelled "inessive" to stay in the competition.

"Since this is my first year here, I feel like I either got really lucky or I studied a lot," he said. "I was lucky because I studied a lot."

Cooper, who finished fourth this year in the North American School Scrabble Championship along with a partner, said a lot of his vocabulary comes from Scrabble.

"I feel great," he said. "I'm about to go on stage. I'm going to be on national television."

It's not the only celebration

Getting to the semifinals is surely exciting for Marcus Behling, speller 5. But it's a big week for his family, too.

"Before I begin, can I give a shout-out to my brother who graduated from high school yesterday as valedictorian?" he asked, to applause. "Mom and I are very proud of you."

His brother, Mitchell, competed in the spelling bee in 2011. Marcus spelled "apivorous" correctly.