Eight of the 273 contestants in the National Spelling Bee are from Missouri. The event starts today and goes through Friday night. They’ll go through their first three rounds, with the first round today and rounds two and three tomorrow, competing for points. As many as fifty will move to the semifinals on Friday with the finals Friday night.

It’s the biggest field in the history of the event.

Today’s first round involves spelling fifty words. Twenty-five of the 50 spellings will count toward the preliminary scores of each contestant. All of the spellers will go through the second and third rounds, earning three points for each correct answer.

As many as fifty students will be picked, based on their scores, to become semifinalists.

The Semifinals will be Friday morning, our time. In most cases, a student who misses on a word is out of the event. The finals will be at 7 p.m. Friday and will be nationally televised.

Missouri’s eight entrants are:

Elizabeth Platz, 13, an eighth grade home school student from Shelbina who has written her first novel and plans to write sequels. She says her favorite book is Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. She was in the Bee last year.

Seth Acup, 14, an eighth grader at Heartland Christian School in Belton, a member of the school quiz bowl team, a member of the school orchestra who has won awards in math, science, and speech competitions. He wants to lay basketball for the Boston Celtics someday.

Twelve-year old Jordan Gabriella Hoffman is in the sixth grade at Highland Park Elementary School in Lee’s Summit. She won her first writing award in Kindergarten, is a violist and pianist. She wants to be a writer like Madeline L’Engle when she grows up.

Seventh grader Summer Dawn Johnston is 13 and from Advance Junior High in Advance, Missouri. She likes to wear bright colors, play the flute, and read–which she began to do as a toddler. She’s a member of several clubs at Advance Junior High and sings in the choir.

McKenna Clippert attends middle school in Sedalia. She’s 12 and loves horses. In fact she competes in Quarter Horse riding competitions on her own horse, Good Time Tim. She’s a catcher on a softball team and likes to sing and dance.

Allison Thomasis 12 and a sixth grader at Branson’s Intermediate School. She is a clarinetist and takes dancing lessons and is a two-time Student Ambassador for People to People. She wants to be a pharmacist.

Kansas City’s Chloe Granger is 14, an eighth grader at Lakeview Middle School who likes cats and dogs. She’s a retired gymnast who is now taking piano lessons and thinks it would be neat to meet her favorite musician, Taylor Swift. She sees architecture or photography in her future.

Olivia Long is a sixth grader at Forsyth School in St. Louis. She’s 12 and is learning Spanish and French to go with the English and Chinese she already speaks. She hopes to be a doctor and an author. She studies ballet, piano, voice and painting.

The events are on ESPN tomorrow and Friday mornings and on ABC Friday night.