Two Colorado students advance to next round in National Spelling Bee

Faith Baca of Aurora competes in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. on May 31, 2017.

WASHINGTON — A pair of Coloradans are still in the hunt at the Scripps National Spelling Bee after both middle-school students nailed their first words Wednesday at the annual competition.

Ben Lenger of Niwot, a seventh-grader at Sunset Middle School, knocked down the word “roseola,” a childhood disease that causes a red rash.

Faith Baca of Aurora, an eighth-grader at the Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning, successfully spelled “sempiternal,” which means eternal and unchanging.

The two Coloradans, who each have to spell one more word Wednesday, are among the 291 spellers competing this year at the National Spelling Bee, which attracts competitors from across the globe.

The two-day contest began Wednesday morning with a spelling and vocabulary test. Following the exam, the students will compete in an all-day competition of onstage spelling. The best of the bunch will advance to the finals Thursday. (If too many spellers survive Wednesday, the judges will use the test to determine the finalists).

No more than 50 students will make the final day, but Colorado has had good luck in recent years. In 2015, Sylvie Lamontagne of Lakewood was one of the 10 finalists. A year later, she finished fourth out of nearly 300 competitors.

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