Howard Co. 6th Grader Advances to Final Round of National Spelling Bee

WASHINGTON — A Howard County sixth grader is one of just 17 spellers to advance to the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will be broadcast live on ESPN Thursday evening.

Saketh Sundar, 11, who attends Mayfield Woods Middle School in Elkridge, Maryland, was the only D.C.-area local to advance to the first round of the finals Thursday afternoon, which consisted of 40 spellers.

After seven rounds, Sundar secured a spot in the prime time finals.

Thursday afternoon, Sundar, who is sponsored by the Howard County Library, successfully spelled

The final round of the bee, which takes place at National Harbor, will be broadcast live on ESPN starting at 8:30 p.m.

Overall, nearly 300 spellers — including 11 D.C.-area word whizzes — were whittled down to 40 after a series of preliminary rounds Wednesday.

Sundar, who competed in the 2016 spelling bee, is the only D.C.-area competitor left in the bee.

He plays the violin in his school’s orchestra and likes watching football, including his favorite team, the Baltimore Ravens, according to an online profile on the spelling bee website.

Along with bragging rights, champion spellers take home $40,000 cash, an engraved trophy, a $2,500 savings bond, $400 worth of reference works and appearances on “LIVE with Kelly and Ryan” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

The last (and only) time a local won the bee was in 1984, when 13-year-old Daniel Greenblatt, from Sterling, Virginia, took home the trophy with “luge.”

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