Toll Middle School student advances to National Spelling Bee semifinals

Jeremiah Cortez, an eighth grader at Toll Middle School, advanced Thursday to the semifinals of the 83rd Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Cortez, 14, began the competition with 272 other spellers from around the country, progressing to a field of 48 after passing through a two-day, three-round gauntlet of multisyllabic and arcane words.

In the first round, held Wednesday, contestants spelled 50 words on a keyboard, though only 25 of the words counted toward their score. Words were spelled aloud on Thursday during the second and third rounds, with correct answers worth three points. Points from the three rounds were added together.

According to the Spelling Bee website, Cortez spelled “copious” correctly in the second round, and “shanghaied” in the third.

The semifinal round will be shown live on ESPN, beginning at 7 a.m. California time. The championship round begins at 5 p.m. California time, but will be shown on tape delay on the West Coast on ABC beginning at 8 p.m. The winner receives cash, a scholarship and other gifts worth more than $40,000.

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