Local super spellers return to National Spelling Bee

WASHINGTON | Nearly 300 young brainiacs have descended on the capital for their annual rite of spring — the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

You can take your Zack Greinke and his near-nonexistent ERA, or LeBron James coolly sinking a three-point game winner with less than a second on the clock.

But you want courage under pressure? Try watching a 14-year-old nail the correct spelling of a tongue-twister of colliding consonants such as “autochthonous” (of rocks and deposits).

Thirteen-year-old Kavya Shivashankar of Olathe will be back at the bee this year, once again using her index finger to write her words on her the palm of hand, which has endeared her to audiences in three previous bees. She came in fourth last year, after previous finishes in 10th and eighth place.

Brent Henderson, 14, of Blue Springs, also is a repeat competitor. He got to the second round last year. Jacob Longmeyer, 11, of Harrisonville, is competing for the first time.

Round two of the preliminaries will be held Wednesday morning, followed by round three, which will be broadcast live on the web at

The semifinals on Thursday will be broadcast live on ESPN from 9 a.m. to noon CST. The finals that night can be seen on ABC at 7 p.m.

Updated results throughout the competition are available at and at