WASHINGTON, DC (NEWS1130) – A Vancouver speller is one of two Canadian schoolgirls advancing to the semifinals at the famous Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Twelve-year-olds Mignon Tsai of Vancouver and Jennifer Mong of St. John’s, NL are among 50 competitors to go on to the semifinals following two days of tense competition.

Zhongtian Wang, 11, of Windsor, Ontario, was eliminated.

In Round 2 of the spelling bee today, Tsai aced ‘hyacinth,’ Mong spelled ‘limousine’ correctly, but Wang got a tough one – ‘issei,’ a word for a Japanese immigrant. The audience applauded in relief when she nailed it.

In Round 3, Tsai got a difficult word: ‘leegte.’ Mong got ‘vaticination’ right and Wang spelled ‘embarcadero’ correctly, but her scores from a 50-word computer quiz yesterday didn’t give her enough points to take her to the semifinal.

The 50 remaining spellers, whittled down from a field of 278, square off in the semifinal tomorrow morning at a glittering conference centre in National Harbor, Maryland, just down the Potomac River from the US capital.

If they get past that round, they’ll compete tomorrow night in the final, to be aired live on ESPN in the US.

Tsai and Mong are competing a year after Canadian Laura Newcombe took second place at the world-renowned contest.

Newcombe, now 13, came tantalizingly close to winning the contest last year in a nail-biter of a final round. She was tripped up by the Greek word ‘sorites.’

Canadians have been a strong presence at the Scripps competition for years, and have had several close calls. Nate Gartke and Finola Hackett of Alberta were previous runners-up.

This year’s competition includes schoolkids not just from the U. and Canada, but from the Bahamas, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. They’re all on hand to spell out words that get progressively more difficult as the contest proceeds.