Brevard County speller moves to National Spelling Bee Finals

(Florida Today)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard speller Mary Horton will move on to the finals in the National Spelling Bee competition on Thursday night.

The home-schooled eighth-grader advanced in the first round of the bee's semifinals by correctly spelling "coaxation', which are being aired live on ESPN2. She is among 46 semifinalists competing at the competition.

Horton correctly spelled "leporiform" (resembling a rabbit in form) to move on to the finals, Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports.

On Wednesday, the 13-year-old correctly spelled philippic" (a verbal attack or tirade), for her first on-stage word, then aced "tussock" (a tuft of grass or a small, thick clump of growing vegetation) in the next round.

Mary, 13, also did well enough on the written test all spellers took Tuesday to advance to the semifinals.

The 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee started with 281 spellers from across the country and several foreign countries.

Aside from a trophy, the champion wins $30,000 in cash plus a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a complete reference library.

This is Mary's second appearance at the national bee, being held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just outside the nation's capital. The budding photographer competed in last year's contest as well.

The Horton family has been well represented at the national bee.

Mary's brother, Jonathan, and sister, Deborah, both competed at the bee, with her brother tying for sixth place in 2006.