NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (WKRN) — A total of 231 kids have gathered just outside of Washington, D.C., this week to vie for the honor of being named the country’s top speller at the 95th Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Only three of those spelling gurus come from Tennessee, but they still outlasted more than 100 other competitors from across the country.

Who is competing in the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee?

According to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, there are 231 spellers this year between ages 9 and 14. These spellers represent all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C.; Guam; Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; Department of Defense Schools in Europe; the Bahamas; Canada; and Ghana.

The competition’s media guide shared some additional fun facts about the spellers:

  • Gender:
    • 134 male spellers
    • 94 female spellers
    • Two non-binary spellers
    • One preferred not to answer
  • School type:
    • 166 from public schools
    • 37 from private schools
    • 13 from charter schools
    • Nine from parochial schools
    • Five who are homeschooled
    • One from virtual/online school

Officials said 49 of the 231 competitors have competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee before, including two finalists from the 2022 bee. In addition, 22 spellers have relatives who have competed in a combined 38 national bees.

Who is in the competition from Tennessee?

A total of three Tennessee spellers showed up at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center to compete in this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee, according to organizers:

(Courtesy: Scripps National Spelling Bee media guide)

  • Audrey Dougherty, 13, is a homeschooled seventh-grader who won the spelling bee sponsored by the Tennessee Titans in Knoxville.
    • “Audrey has many pastimes such as performing on the cello, reading, baking, playing soccer and practicing hair styles on her three younger sisters. She is actively involved in her local 4-H club and participates in many service projects to help her community, including her church’s youth group,” her profile on the spelling bee website said. “Audrey enjoys learning new skills, including public speaking and sewing. Audrey has been around music since the age of two and hopes to become an instrumentalist in the future.”
  • Rainaa Bhupesh, 14, is an eighth-grader at White Station Middle School who won the spelling bee sponsored by the University of Memphis.
    • “Rainaa has various hobbies including writing, reading, trivia, chess, and badminton. Rainaa is a member of her school’s Quiz Bowl team and has won silver in the state championship and will be at the Nationals in Chicago,” her profile on the spelling bee website said. “From the age of five, Rainaa was able to independently manage the cash register at her parents’ restaurant, even when she was not as tall as the register. Rainaa likes to be creative and hopes to pursue a career in business.”
  • Armaan Singhvi, 12, is a sixth-grader at Harding Academy who won the spelling bee sponsored by the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.
    • “Armaan is an avid reader and chess enthusiast. He has won numerous awards, including in chess and mathematics, and he has a love for creating writing, especially poetry,” his profile on the spelling bee website said. “Last year he wrote a poem about the spelling bee. Armaan also enjoys tennis.”
    • He also competed in the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee, where he tied for 135th place.

Officials said seven Tennesseans — including four from Knoxville and three from Memphis — have won the Scripps National Spelling Bee since it was first held in 1925. The most recent victory for the Volunteer State was in 1995, thanks to Justin Tyler Carroll of Memphis.

Would you like a breakdown of this year’s bee?

The 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee schedule is listed below, with all of the events written in Eastern Time:

Sunday, May 28Speller Registration
Rule the Word Challenge
2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Monday, May 29Pop-up Carnival
Opening Ceremony
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 30Preliminaries (Rounds 1-3)9 a.m. to 7:25 p.m.
Wednesday, May 31Quarterfinals
8 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 1Finals8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday, June 2Awards Banquet
Speller Farewell Party
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

In the preliminaries, officials said spellers participate in up to three consecutive rounds of oral competition — spelling, word meaning, and spelling — but if they give the wrong answer in any of the three rounds, they are eliminated.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee reportedly added the “word meaning round” to each segment of the competition back in 2021. The spellers are given multiple-choice vocabulary questions for which they have to select the correct answer.

Organizers said this element was introduced to challenge the spellers and advance the competition’s focus on word knowledge and literacy.

Here is a summary of how the preliminary segment of the 2023 competition proceeded for the Volunteer State’s contestants:

  • Audrey Dougherty (#186):
    • Correctly spelled “jibboom” in Round 1
    • Correctly answered “the process of rising upward to a higher degree or level” when asked to define “ascension” in Round 2
    • Correctly spelled “endocardial” in Round 3
  • Rainaa Bhupesh (#187):
    • Correctly spelled “gendarme” in Round 1
    • Correctly answered “through imaginative participation in the experience of another” when asked how something described as “vicarious” is experienced in Round 2
    • Correctly spelled “indicative” in Round 3
  • Armaan Singhvi (#188):
    • Correctly spelled “ahimsa” in Round 1
    • Correctly answered “knowable by insight or without reason” when asked what it means if something described as “intuitable” in Round 2
    • Correctly spelled “oppressive” in Round 3

By the end of the preliminaries on Tuesday, 121 spellers made it to Wednesday’s quarterfinals, including all three Tennesseans.

During the quarterfinals, the contestants continued with the oral competition from the preliminaries, starting with spelling in Round 4. If they misspelled a word or incorrectly answered a question, they were eliminated.

Tennessee’s three quarterfinalists were among 48 spellers eliminated in the fourth round, which means they all tied for 74th place:

  • Audrey Dougherty (#186):
    • Incorrectly spelled “huke” as “huque” in Round 4
  • Rainaa Bhupesh (#187):
    • Incorrectly spelled “baize” as “beise” in Round 4
  • Armaan Singhvi (#188):
    • Incorrectly spelled “rachis” as “racus” in Round 4

In the fifth round, 17 of the 73 remaining competitors were eliminated for incorrectly answering the word meaning questions, marking the end of the quarterfinals.

Later on Wednesday, more than half of the 56 spellers in Round 6 misspelled their words and were knocked out of the semifinals.

The seventh round returned to word meaning questions, but only two of the 22 remaining semifinalists were eliminated.

The challenging spelling words used in Round 8, however, led to the elimination of nine of the 20 spellers, which means 11 competitors are advancing to Thursday night’s finals.

Follow these links to learn more about the rules, prizes, live coverage, the various spellers, and the results of each round in the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee.