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2018 St. Louis Post-Dispatch Spelling Bee at McKendree University

Alice Liu, 11, of Crestview Middle School, celebrates after winning the 32nd annual St. Louis Post-Dispatch Spelling Bee at the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts at McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill., on Saturday, March 17, 2018. Liu, who won the Post-Dispatch Spelling Bee in 2017, will go on to compete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. this May. Photo by Jon Gitchoff

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. • Alice Liu, 11, of Chesterfield, is one of 41 spellers to make it to the final day of the Scripps National Spelling Bee here.

She survived two rounds of spelling and written tests, and she goes into Thursday’s competition as the highest finisher from last year’s competition, in which she finished tied for 12th. More than half of this year’s finalists have been finalists in previous competitions, some dating to 2013.

Alice was the only St. Louis-area competitor to qualify for Thursday’s rounds, which will be televised on ESPN starting at 9 a.m. St. Louis time, with the final round beginning at 7:30 p.m.

More than 500 spellers made it to the national competition this year, almost twice that of previous years, as the sponsor Scripps opened up more slots for others to compete.

Three other St. Louis-area spellers survived a second round of competition Tuesday:

Joshua Roodhouse Hale, 13, of Dubray Middle School in St. Peters; Alecia McCulley, 12, of Florissant, a student at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta School in Ferguson; and Ryan Smith, 12, of Ballwin, who attends Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in Ladue.

Joshua and Alecia also made it through a third round of spelling Wednesday, but they did not advance to the final day. Also in the third round, Ryan fell on “impassivity.”

Alice correctly spelled “bistoury” and “triphibian” and that, coupled with her scores on written tests, propelled her to the finals. Alice is a sixth-grader at Crestview Middle School in Ballwin.

Sophia Nguyen, 13, of St. Joseph, Mo., is also among the finalists. She is sponsored by the St. Joseph News-Press.

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Chuck Raasch is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.