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Meet Kentucky’s Three 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee Contestants

The Scripps National Spelling Bee has a storied history with the state of Kentucky. In the first 14 years of the Bee, Kentucky boasted four champions including Frank Neuhauser, who won the very first competition in 1925 with the word Gladiolus. The other three Spelling Bee Champions from Kentucky, all hailing from Louisville, won on the words Cerise – a bright or deep red color (1926 – Pauline Bell), Promiscuous (1937 – Waneeta Beckley) & Sanitarium (1938 – Marian Richardson).

Fast forward to 2017, where the Scripps National Spelling Bee is taking place starting today in Washington D.C. with Kentucky having three spellers who will try and bring back the title to the Commonwealth. The three day competition will see a combination of non-televised computer tests, followed by the traditional Spelling Bee you are accustomed to viewing on ESPN. Let’s take a look at the three local competitors who we will be rooting for this week in the Bee:

Tara Singh – Louisville, KY – Speller #207

Tara enters the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee for the fourth time, having previously competed in 2013, 2015 and 2016. In the 2013 Bee, she was seven years old – the youngest speller in the Bee that year. She finished in a strong 22nd place in last year’s competition. In her free time, she both writes and reads fantasy fiction. She also writes stories in Latin, and also has played something called Certamen, which is a game where you answer questions in Latin regarding classical civilizations and its people, languages and cultures.

Tanvi Rakesh – Florence, KY – Speller #218

Tanvi is a 4th grader at Longbranch Elementary School in Florence, KY.  She battled in the WCPO Region I Kentucky-Indiana Spelling Bee this spring for 27 rounds, where she took home the title with the word “tiara”. Tanvi seems like your average 10 year old kid: she loves Harry Potter, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Adele, Food Network, Roller Coasters, etc. However, she is also a world traveler, visiting India, Germany, Prague, and Paris (to name a few). She hopes one day to attend Harvard University to become a doctor or lawyer.

Joey Ilagan – Lexington, KY – Speller #230

Joey is an 8th grader at Tates Creek Middle School. Joey might fly under the radar at the Bee this year, being humble about how well he’ll do. In the Northern Kentucky Tribune, he said: “I have never been good at spelling at all, something I just did for fun.” Joey has a lot of hobbies outside of studying for the Spelling Bee. He’s a cellist and plays for both the Tates Creek Orchestra and Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra. Joey’s also an avid swimmer, competing for both the Pinnacle Pirates and Lexington Dolphins.

The 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee starts today with the preliminary tests, where the spellers will compete in a multiple choice test. The TV schedule for the Bee is as follows:

Wednesday, May 31 – Preliminaries
Round Two – ESPN3
8:00-10:00 – Spellers 1 through 145
10:15-12:15 – Spellers 146 through 291

Round Three – ESPN3
1:15-3:30 – Spellers 1 through 145
3:45-6:00 – Spellers 146 through 291

Thursday, June 1 – Finals
10:00 AM – Finals Part One on ESPN2
8:30 PM – Finals Part Two on ESPN

Good Luck Tara, Tanvi and Joey! Bring Kentucky home its first Spelling Bee Championship in 79 years! Hopefully you get some easy words:


Article written by Richmond Bramblet

1 Comment for Meet Kentucky’s Three 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee Contestants

  1. As a Tates Creek Junior High alum, I say GO JOEY! And GO Titans!