From staff and wire reports

A tricky ballet maneuver got the best of Akron Beacon Journal-sponsored speller Owen Kovalik on Thursday at the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals in Oxon Hill, Md.

In the Bee’s fourth round, Owen was given the word “chaîné” and spelled it c-h-e-n-e-t — eliminating the Medina Christian Academy seventh-grader in his second straight appearance at the competition.

At the day’s start, Owen was one of 45 students remaining from a field of 285.

Fellow finalist Shiv Dewan, an eighth-grader at St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School in Louisville, correctly spelled “ptilopod” in the fourth round, “pochoir” in the fifth and “obumbrant” in the sixth — but went out on “somma,” a volcanic term, in the seventh round. He spelled it s-a-m-m-a, just missing out on the group advancing to the prime time finale on ESPN.

Shiv, also making his second appearance at the Bee, will take home a $2,000 prize for lasting into the seventh round; Medina’s Owen will receive a $500 gift card. The finalists also receive medals for their performances.

The Bee staff promised that this year would be tougher than ever. A second written spelling and vocabulary test, widely loathed by spellers, was eliminated. But the bee still needed to cut the field from 45 to 10 before the evening portion.

As a result, spellers were hit with words that were harder to figure out. They got biological terms and words derived from obscure languages.

Through 24 championship rounds, two boys knocked down difficult word after difficult word — each with two missteps — before being declared co-champs.

Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar, 13, from the Alternative School for Math and Science in Corning, N.Y., and Nihar Saireddy Janga, 11, a fifth-grader at River Ridge Elementary School in Austin, Texas, shared the title.

It was not immediately clear how the top prize would be allocated; for a single champion, there awaited a $40,000 cash prize and an engraved trophy, as well as a $2,500 U.S. savings bond, a trip to New York City and various reference materials. Second-place prize was listed as $30,000.

All participants receive a Kindle Paperwhite, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, a 2016 U.S. Mint Proof Set and a one-year membership to Encyclopædia Britannica Online Premium.