Rika Mizoguchi, from H.B. Thompson Middle School in Syosset, celebrates...

Rika Mizoguchi, from H.B. Thompson Middle School in Syosset, celebrates her win at the 2016 Hofstra Long Island Regional Scripps Spelling Bee with her mother Kumiko, right, at Hofstra University on Sunday, March 13, 2016. Credit: Steve Pfost

Forty-eight students will compete at Hofstra University on Sunday for the title of Long Island’s top speller and a trip to take part in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the nation’s capital.

The students in fourth to eighth grades from schools across Nassau and Suffolk counties will vie in a spelldown at Hofstra University’s Helene Fortunoff Theater. The competition is not open to the public.

The winner of Sunday’s contest will represent Long Island at the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C., from May 28 to June 3, with championship prizes of $40,000 and $30,000 for first and second places, respectively. The event is held at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.

Hofstra pays all expenses for the winner to travel to the competition with one parent or guardian.

“It’s a great privilege to work with these students and host this competition on the Hofstra campus,” said Melissa Connolly, vice president of university relations. “Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious, and they’ve all worked hard to reach the regional competition. I’m always sorry that we can only take one of them to D.C. for the National Spelling Bee.”

The students, who won their local school spelling bees, were among a group of 133 who took a written exam last Sunday.

Students at the spelldown will be given words by a panel of judges to spell aloud. Contestants are eliminated when they misspell a word, and the competition continues until one speller remains on the stage.

Last year, Syosset eighth-grader Rika Mizoguchi took home first prize at the Hofstra Long Island Regional Scripps Spelling Bee by spelling the word “adnate” in the 17th round, two hours into the contest. At the national bee, she fell just short of advancing to the finals.

Last year, two students were co-champions: Jairam Hathwar, of Painted Post, New York, who spelled “Feldenkrais” and Nihar Janga, of Houston, who spelled “gesellschaft.” It was the third straight year that the national bee ended in a tie.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee began in 1925. No Long Island competitor ever has won the national bee, according to the Scripps Spelling Bee website.

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