2014 scripps national spelling bee

2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee: We Choose Our 5 Favorite Contestants

Speller Kate Miller, of Abilene, Texas, competes in the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., Wednesday, May 28, 2014. Miller qualified for the Bee semifinals. (Chuck Myers/MCT)
Speller Tejas Muthusamy of Glen Allen, Virginia, reacts after he correctly spelled his word during round six of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition May 29, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland. Forty-six spellers have advanced to the semifinals to compete for the top honor in the annual spelling contest. Photo: Chuck Myers/MCT

Tonight’s the big night: The annual Scripps National Spelling Bee is back and there’s a brand-new crop of brilliant young people to root for. Over the past few days, 281 spellers have been whittled down to a final dozen. In case you’ve been too busy to catch all those hours of competition, we’ve gone and picked our favorites going into tonight’s finals.

Kate Miller - Speller No. 232
Age: 14
Hometown: Abilene, Texas
Coolest Word Already Spelled: weevil (“a type of beetle from the Curculionoidea superfamily”)
Why She’s a Favorite: Mind you, this is directly from her Scripps bio, but it’s really all that you need to fall in love: “Film analysis, knitting Rodentia, and ‘crafting irreverent travesties of pop songs’ top Kate’s list of hobbies.” Plus, look at her face in this photo. Sold.

Jacob Daniel Williamson - Speller No. 38
Age: 15
Hometown: Cape Coral, Florida           
Coolest Word Already Spelled: harlequinade (“farcical clowning or buffoonery”)
Why He’s a Favorite: Right here: “In his free time, Jacob most enjoys playing fantasy sports, especially fantasy football.” Plus! Bottom left:

Tajaun Gibbison - Speller No. 87
Age: 13
Hometown: Mandeville, Jamaica
Coolest Word Already Spelled: vigneron (“a person who cultivates grapes for winemaking”)
Why He’s a Favorite: Because LOOK AT THIS FACE. #TeamTajaun

Gokul Venkatachalam - Speller No. 139
Age: 13
Hometown: Chesterfield, Missouri
Coolest Word Already Spelled: perestroika (“the policy of economic and governmental reform instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union during the mid-1980s”)
Why He’s a Favorite: If you’re looking to place real bets on this thing (maybe don’t, though?), we’d recommend you go with Gokul: He tied for 10th place in the 2012 Bee and tied for 19th place last year. He’s been here before.

Ansun Sujoe - Speller No. 237
Age: 13
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
Coolest Word Already Spelled: laulau (“a Native Hawaiian cuisine dish, traditionally preparaed with pork in wrapped taro leaf”)
Why He’s a Favorite: You ready for this kid’s pedigree? He has perfect pitch. He enjoys “playing chess, solving complex math problems and programming robots.” And as a hobby, “he ministers to seniors in nearby nursing homes.” He is also in the Spelling Bee finals, in case you already forgot.

2014 National Spelling Bee: Our 5 Fave Spellers