The championship rounds will be held Thursday night from 6 to 8 p.m. and will be televised live on ESPN.

In Thursday's semifinal rounds, Frank correctly spelled "drosophila" (a type of fruit fly used in genetic research), "cannelon" (a hollow cone or roll filled with meat, cheese or cream), and "guilloche" (an ornamental pattern made by interlacing lines).

During Wednesday's preliminary rounds, Frank correctly spelled "frangible" (easily breakable) and "ephemeral" (short-lived). His oral-round scores combined with his performance on the written round were enough to see him through to the semis.

The only other speller from the state to make it to the national bee, 13-year-old Eva Kitlen, was knocked out of the contest Wednesday though the Longmont seventh-grader correctly spelled "genre" (a class or category of artistic endeavor) and "utile" (useful).

Eva, who attends Sunset Middle School, is eligible to return next year. But Frank, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Ave Maria Catholic School, can't take part again because contestants can't be older than 14.

According to the bee's official biography, Frank's best subject in school is math. He was a Colorado state finalist in the MATHCOUNTS National Competition last year and this year. He also plays the violin and the piano, is active in the theater, plays basketball and lacrosse, is a Boy Scout and maintains a 4.0 grade point average.

This year's bee began with 278 spellers. Participants included the youngest recorded speller ever to compete in the national bee - 6-year-old Lori Anne Madison of Woodbridge, Va., who didn't make it to the semifinals - and two spellers making their fifth appearances. Countries represented in addition to the U.S. included Japan, New Zealand and Ghana.

Fifty semifinalists began spelling Thursday morning. This year's champion will claim $30,000, a $5,000 scholarship and other prizes.

-Raju Chebium - Gannett Washington Bureau