National Spelling Bee down to 9 finalists

Lena Greenberg, 14, of Philadelphia, waits to compete in the National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Wednesday, May 30, 2012. She spelled her word correctly. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) -- Nine spellers are bringing their brains and competitive fire to the final round of the National Spelling Bee.

The field was cut from 50 in three brutally difficult semifinal rounds that elicited tears and squeals of delight. The final round starts at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Lena Greenberg, an excitable 14-year-old from Philadelphia, became the last speller to make the finals when she spelled "cholecystitis" - an inflammation of the gallbladder. She says she didn't know the word but was able to piece it together.

The field also includes Gifton Wright of Spanish Town, Jamaica, who could become the second Jamaican winner in Scripps National Spelling Bee history.

Nicholas Rushlow of Pickerington, Ohio, who's been in the bee every year since 2008, made the finals for the first time. Last summer, he spelled every word in the dictionary.


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