National Spelling Bee: Meet our local spellers | Photos: The bee

Updated, 2:28 p.m.

Only 18 spellers, including one from Virginia, remain in the seventh round of the spelling bee, likely to be the last before tonight's final.

 The semifinal’s going on four hours, after a last round knocked out eight of the 26 remaining spellers. Crowd favorite Surjo Bandyopadhyay of Prince Frederick was eliminated after misspelling “nachschlag,” a German instrument. The 14-year-old took the news well, smiling while uttering “fail” when the pronouncer corrected his spelling (he spelled it “nachslag”).

Updated, 12:01 p.m.

Tia Ha of Victorville, Calif., misses the spelling of a word in the preliminary round of the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee. (By Larry Downing/Reuters )

There are 36 spellers left after five rounds at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, including one student from Maryland and one from Virginia.

The field is expected to narrow to about 14 before tonight's finals, which will be broadcast live on ESPN.

Thursday's semifinals featured a flurry of confusing words, many of them medical terms and derived from the French. It was a medical term that knocked Sam Osher, a 12-year-old from Columbia, out of the competition. His spelling downfall was “nuque,” a term meaning the back of the neck. He was followed by his fellow Marylander Surjo Bandyopadhyay, a 14-year-old from Southern Middle School, who has turned out to be one of the most entertaining spellers.

When the pronouncer gave Surjo his word, he asked him for “all the information you can give me,” eliciting laughs from an ever-growing crowd. Then came the definition, simply put as an enzyme that is found in many proteins, including eggs whites. That it derived from the Greek language. Upon hearing that, he confidently spelled “l-y-s-o-z-y-m-e.”  Success.

Winchester's Sam Estep is also still in it, spelling “withernam,” which has a definition as confusing as the word itself.

This is the spelling bee's first time at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in Oxon Hill. Organizers said they moved the bee to a larger facility to accommodate the ever-growing interest in the event. For the first time in recent memory, they are selling tickets for logophiles who have no relation to spellers and might want to witness the pageantry of the event first hand.

Original Post, 10:54 a.m.

Embololalia. What does it mean? Who cares! The important thing is that Columbia’s Sam Osheroff managed to spell that spaghetti-like jumble of consonants and vowels correctly.

The 12-year-old, who plays both piano and trumpet when he’s not acing accelerated math tests, is one of three local spellers to make it to the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee at the National Harbor.

Osheroff is joined by Berryville’s Samuel Estep, who likes to program games on his calculator, and Lusby’s Surjo Bandyopadhyay, who won his school’s Pi Day competition. The two beat some tough words, including lysozyme and profligacy.

The second and third rounds weren’t kind to our local spellers. There were originally 23 students from Maryland, Virginia and the District out of the 275 in the competition. A total of 41 spellers made it to the semifinals, which are going on right now.

The winner will receive more than $40,000 in cash and prizes. Our local spellers will have to overcome some tough competition. There are two returning finalists from last year still in the hunt: Joanna Ye of Carlisle, Pa., and Laura Newcombe of Toronto.

Among the new features at this year’s bee: The semifinalists get to see ESPN’s feature profiles on a big screen as they’re airing on television. Grace Remmer of St. Augustine, Fla., giggled as she watched herself enjoying Disneyworld — then calmed down and approached the microphone, where she correctly spelled “anaphylaxis.”

Check back with PostLocal. We’ll update this post as we get results from the semifinals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Post reporter Robert Samuels is tweeting from the event. His tweets and #spellingbeechatter are pulled in here: