Two-time Nevada spelling champ Dakota Jones appears headed to the finals of the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The 14-year-old survived what seemed a grueling third semifinal elimination round that had claimed seven of 26 remaining competitors by Dakota’s turn on stage.
Five spellers in a row who preceded Dakota were eliminated on words that included nachschlag, semplice, pavonazzo, weltschmerz and scopolamine.
At the microphone, Dakota exhaled nervously awaiting his word.
“Solenne,” said Bee pronouncer Dr. Jacques Bailly.
Dakota again took his time, asking for the definition, language of origin, alternate pronunciations and for it to be used in a sentence.
After correctly spelling the word used in music to express an earnest, serious sedateness, Dakota returned to his seat with a big smile.
The round ended with 18 spellers surviving. Another elimination round was set to begin to determine who would remain for the finals.
An eighth-grader at Hyde Park Middle School in Las Vegas, Dakota is sponsored by the Review-Journal.
The finals will be broadcast live on ESPN this evening starting at 5 p.m. PDT.