209 candidates from all over the world will begin competing virtually in the preliminary rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee beginning on June 12.
Immanuel Goveas from Menomonee Falls will be competing in the Bee for the 3rd time at the national level.
"I've definitely been studying every day," said Goveas.
Goveas is following in the footsteps of his older sister, Veronica Goveas, the 2016 Wisconsin State Spelling Bee Champion and also a national finalist.
Maya Jadhav from Madison is also no stranger to the game. She previously competed in the national bee back in 2018 and 2019. Jadhav says she was inspired to pursue the hobby through the encouragement of her elementary school principal, who encouraged her to keep at it despite her not winning the competition then.
"It's not about the competition, it's about what you learn on the way and the habits and the skills that you develop," says Terra Theim, Maya's mother.
It will be Ty Blacker from Baraboo's first time competing for the national bee. He says he had no clue he would make it this far.
"There were a lot of hoops to jump through," says Blacker.
Despite the challenges, the process has inspired him to work harder.
"It’s definitely made me want to work harder just so that I can be the best that I can be," said Blacker.
Wisconsin has produced one Scripps National Spelling Bee champion ever, Joanne Lagatta, back in 1991.
While the pressure is on, Jadhav remains calm.
"I usually just think to myself, 'just do your best,' and you can't really do any better than that," said Jadhav.
According to Scripps, in the next few weeks, the current 209 candidates will be narrowed down to 10-12 finalists. Those top spellers will compete in person at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida for the cash prize of $50,000.
The schedule will proceed as follows:
- Preliminaries: Saturday, June 12, 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3
- Quarterfinals: Tuesday, June 15, noon-6 p.m. on ESPN3
- Semifinals: Sunday, June 27, 7-11 p.m. on ESPN2
- Finals: Thursday, July 8, 8-10 p.m. on ESPN2