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National Spelling Bee finalists include last year's third-place finisher, 11 newcomers

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    Tejas Muthusamy of Glen Allen, Va., reacts after spelling "llanero" correctly during the semifinal round of the National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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    Jacob Williamson of Cape Coral, Fla., celebrates after learning he made the final round of the National Spelling Bee today in Oxon Hill, Md.

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    Shayley Grace Martin of Riner, Va., concentrates before spelling the word "tachytely" correctly during the semifinal round of the National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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    Kate Miller of Abilene, Texas, reacts after learning she spelled the word "brachypterous" correctly during the semifinal round of the National Spelling Bee, on Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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    Tajaun Gibbison of Mandeville, Jamaica, pauses while spelling the word "swidden" correctly during the semifinal round of the National Spelling Bee, on Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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    Eighth grade home-schooled pupil Jacob Williamson, 15, of Cape Coral, Fla., reacts after correctly spelling his word "harlequinade", during the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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    Eighth grade home-schooled student Kate Miller, 14, of Abilene, Texas, right, celebrates after making it to the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. Applauding in the center is Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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    Jacob Williamson of Cape Coral, Fla., celebrates after learning he made the final round of the National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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    Ankita Vadiala of Manassas, Va., crosses her fingers as she spells the word "llanero" correctly during the semifinal round of the National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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    Scripps National Spelling Bee finalists stand hand in hand on the stage with their medals, Thursday, May 29, 2014, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. The finals are scheduled for Thursday night. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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    Finalist Tejas Muthusamy, right, 11, of Glen Allen, Va., is congratulated by Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, left, after awarding him his medal, during the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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    Finalist Gokul Venkatachalam, 13, of Chesterfield, Mo., right, is congratulated by Paige Kimble, left, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, after awarding him his medal, during the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. Applauding are, back from left are, finalists Mary Horton, 13, of West Melbourne, Fla., and Jacob Williamson, 15, of Cape Coral, Fla. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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    Eighth grade student Joseph Cusi Delamerced, 14, of Cincinnati, Ohio, smiles after correctly spelling, "salicetum", during the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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    Tea Freedman-Susskind of Redmond, Wash., celebrates after spelling "camembert" during the semifinal round of the National Spelling Bee, on Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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    Kate Miller of Abilene, Texas, spells the the word "brachypterous" correctly during the semifinal round of the National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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    Finalist Samuel Pereles, 13 of Waynesboro, Va., is congratulated by Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, left, after awarding him his medal, during the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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    Sixth grade student Jae Canetti, 12, of Fairfax, Va., cringes his face after incorrectly spelling his word "parseval" during the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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    Eighth grade home-schooled student Jacob Williamson, 15, of Cape Coral, Fla., reacts after correctly spelling his word "harlequinade", during the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. Williamson spelled his word correct. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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    Sixth grade student Jae Canetti, 12, of Fairfax, Va., shows his disappointment after incorrectly spelling his word "parseval" during the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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    Tea Freedman-Susskind of Redmond, Wash., right, is congratulated after spelling "camembert" correctly during the semifinal round of the National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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    Sumedh Garimella of Duluth, Ga., left, and Mary Elizabeth Horton of West Melbourne, Fla., wait for their turn during the semifinal round of the National Spelling Bee, on Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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    Ansun Sujoe, right, 13, from Fort Worth, Texas, is congratulated by Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, after being awarded a medal and making it to the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Thursday, May 29, 2014, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. Standing on the from left are, finalists Mary Horton, 13, of West Melbourne, Fla., Tajaun Gibbison, 13, of Mandeville, Jamaica. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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Spelling-Bee-Jacob-Williamson

Jacob Williamson of Cape Coral, Fla., celebrates after learning he made the final round of the National Spelling Bee today in Oxon Hill, Md.

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OXON HILL, Md. — Jacob Williamson shrieked with delight, sank to his knees and pounded the stage as his name was called as one of the 12 finalists in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Jacob, easily the most demonstrative of the dozen spellers who will compete Thursday night for more than $33,000 in prizes, said he was surprised to have made it so far in his first National Spelling Bee appearance. The 15-year-old home-schooled eighth-grader was even more amazed that two of last year’s finalists won’t be joining him.

Vanya Shivashankar, a three-time finalist whose older sister won the bee in 2009, was bounced after Thursday’s semifinal round. Vanya, a 12-year-old seventh-grader from Olathe, Kansas, spelled two words correctly onstage with her usual aplomb, but she did not score highly enough on two computerized spelling and vocabulary tests to advance.

RELATED: Woodmore speller falls short of national semis

The finalists include only one holdover from last year: 14-year-old Sriram Hathwar of Corning, New York, who finished third. Another former finalist, Syamantak Parma of Friendswood, Texas, misspelled “circumforaneous,” which means “wandering from place to place,” and saw his final appearance in the bee end with the dreaded ringing of a bell.

“That was a shocker,” Jacob said. “Two of the big three are gone. The holy trinity of spelling!”

Sriram hopes his experience — and another year to study and shore up his weaknesses — will pay off. He says he’s studied the dictionary so much that he has a “GPS system” in his brain and can recall the page where a word appears.

“On the page, I have a general sense of where the word will be when they ask it. It’s like flipping through the dictionary in my mind,” Sriram said.

Many spellers go through a routine before spelling a word. Even if they know it, they’ll ask questions to make sure: definition, language of origin, part of speech, alternate pronunciations. Finalist Kate Miller of Abilene, Texas, said she’d ask all those questions even if she was asked to spell “cat.” Then, before spelling, the lanky eighth-grader “air-types” the word on an imaginary keyboard before spelling it.

“When you’re nervous, it feels good to have an outlet, shake your sillies out as they say,” Kate said. “As a dancer, I am a firm believer in muscle memory.”

But Jacob doesn’t think any of that is necessary. He knew both words he got during the semifinals, including “euripus,” a narrow tract of water with violent currents. He yelled “I know it!” and, after spelling it correctly, he shook his fists in the air.

“I’m calm but I’m very excitable at the same time,” he said. “I know what I know and I know there’s not a ton about spelling words that I don’t know. I’m confident that either I’ll get a word I know or I’ll get a word I can piece out.”

The other finalists:

— Alia Abiad, 14, of Western Springs, Illinois.

— Tajaun Gibbison, 13, of Mandeville, Jamaica. The only international winner in the bee’s history also hailed from Jamaica.

— Mary Horton, 13, of West Melbourne, Florida. Her two older siblings have competed in the bee, with her brother reaching the finals in 2006.

— Neha Konakalla, 14, of Cupertino, California.

— Tejas Muthusamy of Glen Allen, Virginia, an 11-year-old fifth-grader and the youngest semifinalist.

— Samuel Pereles, 13, of Waynesboro, Virginia.

— Ansun Sunjoe, 13, of Fort Worth, Texas.

— Ashwin Veeramani, 14, of North Royalton, Ohio, whose sister Anamika won the bee in 2010.

— Gokul Venkatachalam, 13, of Chesterfield, Missouri, a three-time semifinalist.

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