Beating your siblings

There are a few spellers who had to beat tough competition to make it to the national bee -- their siblings.

Jessie Ditton (Speller 261), a Virginia sixth grader, had to beat her brother in the district bee and her twin sister in the regional bee to advance this far. In Round 2, she spelled "Bolshevik" correctly to advance to Round 3.

Maggy Lambo (Speller 158), a New York sixth grader, beat her older sister Molly to get to D.C.

"We battled back and forth," said Molly, an eighth grader.

She followed the words on stage from her seat in the audience.

At the half

We've finished the first part of Round 3. The words were a little more difficult this time, and 18 spellers were eliminated from the competition. There were 114 who spelled their words correctly.

We'll hear from 134 spellers in the second half of Round 3 in just a few minutes.

Spellers who spell their words correctly in Round 3 will be eligible to move on to the semifinals. Their on-stage points will be added to their scores from yesterday's computer test.

After Round 3 ends, those semifinalist spellers will be announced from the stage.

I'm going to start over

Gabriela Rodriguez-Garcia (Speller 108) started to spell "jejunely" before saying she was going to start over. The Maryland eighth grader did, and got it right.

Spellers are allowed to restart their words, as long as they don't change any of the letters they've already spoken.

Take a breath

Sometimes, pronouncer Dr. Jacques Bailly's job is to ease the tension on stage.

He's told two spellers to take breaths so far today.

"Howdy again. Good to see you," he told Isabel Cholbi (Speller 18).

And an exchange between the head pronouncer and Zander Patent (Speller 59) brought smiles to the room.

"Morning Dr. Bailly -- er, afternoon, Dr. Bailly," the Illinois sixth grader said.

"Well, it's morning somewhere," Dr. Bailly replied.

Could I get everything, please?

Spellers can ask the pronouncer, Dr. Jacques Bailly, for a whole host of information -- alternate pronunciations, part of speech, definition, sentence and the language of origin.

Many spellers go through a list of the questions. But Donovan Rolle (Speller 35) wanted to make sure he had everything he needed.

"Could I get everything, please?" he asked to laughter after receiving the word "bacciferous."

Dr. Bailly told him the adjective from an originally Latin word, with an English combining form, had no alternate pronunciations. It means "bearing berries."


Katharine Wang (Speller 28) didn't look like she had heard her word before, "quebracho," a native Argentinian tree.

She spelled the first several letters slowly, before rushing through the rest.

The sixth grader from China looked visibly relieved when she learned her spelling was correct. She doubled over, then ran back to her seat where her neighbor, Mollie Symons (Speller 26) congratulated her.

Speller 28, Katharine Wang

So what's it like on stage?

This is the first time Maggy Lambo (Speller 158) has been to the spelling bee -- so it's her first time on stage.

What was it like?

The New York sixth grader -- who correctly spelled "caballero" in Round 2 -- said it was "weird that people were watching." After all, she doesn't even like getting her picture taken.

"At first I was nervous, until I won," she said of her correct spelling. "I got my word right, and I was relaxed."

For Luke Thornburgh (Speller 258), competing for the second time made it easier.

At the end of Round 2

Thanks for spelling with us, all. We're taking a break at the end of Round 2.

How did it go? Of our 281 speller, 266 will be with us for Round 3. Fifteen spelled their words incorrectly and are out of the competition.

We'll be back with you for Round 3 (and more updates) at 1:15 p.m. on ESPN3, the WatchESPN app and all over social media.

See you then!

I've had that before!

How often does "realschule" -- a German secondary school -- come up in everyday life?

For English speakers, probably not that often. But it was familiar to Iram Kingson (Speller 196).

"I had this word last time I was here, but can I have the definition?" she asked.

She had it last time? Actually, yes.

In 2011, Iram, now a West Virginia eighth grader, spelled it correctly in early rounds. But she didn't make the semifinals.

How is that possible? Because of the words in these early rounds.