Fresno, Visalia students miss the finals cut at Scripps National Spelling Bee

The Scripps National Spelling Bee will go on Thursday without a central San Joaquin Valley student.

Neither Fresno’s Achuth Vinay, a fourth-grader at Fugman Elementary School in Clovis Unified, nor Kayla Barnes, a seventh-grader at George McCann Memorial Catholic School in Visalia, advanced to the televised finals.

The field was cut from 567 to 50 based on a combination of performance on a written test Monday and two rounds of on-stage spelling held Tuesday and Wednesday.

Vina, the younger brother of 2017 national champion Ananya Vinay, correctly spelled his two on-stage words (pergola and divan) to stay in the running for the finals. Barnes correctly spelled daikon but missed on coffering.

The age limit is eighth grade, so both Valley spellers have a shot at returning next year to the 2020 competition at the Gaylord resort just outside Washington, D.C.

And the Valley will have a voice in the finals: Paul Loeffler is back as ESPN’s analyst for the 14th year. Loeffler, who placed in the top 13 in the 1990 national bee, is a Los Banos native, founder of the Central Valley Honor Flight and a radio voice of Fresno State athletics.

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