WASHINGTON (WIAT) — The Scripps National Spelling Bee is back this year and 234 students are vying to win the competition.

Despite the large number of participants, only one speller is from the state of Alabama. Braydon Syx, 13, is a seventh-grader at West Blocton Middle School in Bibb County who won the Alabama Spelling Bee back in March and was awarded the opportunity to represent the state in the national tournament in Washington, D.C. Syx won the state spelling bee with the winning word “furrier.”

“I’ve been working for like a long time to be here,” Syx said during an interview in Washington. “It’s actually really cool.”

Through the first three rounds of the national bee, Syx has spelled two words correctly in “ormolu” and “bromegrass” and provided the correct definition of the word “tremulous.”

During last year’s spelling bee, Scripp’s introduced “word meaning” rounds to challenge contestants on their extended knowledge of the words. It was brought back for the 2022 tournament. Students are given a word and must choose between three possible answers and select the correct one.

Despite being a gifted speller, Syx says his real passion is math and one day hopes to become an engineer. He is also a big fan of baseball and tacos, saying he’ll “never get bored of them.” Syx said he prepared for the bee by reading the dictionary and the “Words of the Champions” study guide.

Syx said competing in the national bee is an intense feeling.

“It’s like you don’t know what word you’re going to get,” he said. “The anticipation is a lot.”

Syx could join some pretty elite company by winning the spelling bee. Only two other Alabamians have won the competition: Julie Ann Junkin, of Gordo, back in 1974 and Erin Howard, of Huntsville, who won alongside seven other spellers in 2019 after a fierce final round.

So far, Braydon has made it through all three preliminary rounds that were held Tuesday. He said he’s been practicing for months.

“I read the dictionary and I read rules for certain languages and I read the words of the champion stuff, so I could prepare for like the first and second word. I’ve been working for a long time to be here. It’s actually pretty cool,” Syx said.

The competition continues throughout the week. You can watch Syx and the other contestants compete for glory and find out more about them by clicking here.