Lowcountry Spellbound! champion Ian Bongalonta is competing in the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee, which starts today in Washington, D.C.

Ian, a rising eighth-grader at Westview Middle School, is sponsored by The Post and Courier.

The son of Franco and Ma Paz Bongalonta of Goose Creek, he outspelled 50 Lowcountry students at regional bee March 22.

The 278 participants in the Washington bee come from all 50 states and from as far away as China, Japan and Ghana. They will be whittled down to the top 50 for the semifinals.

The preliminaries will be broadcast on ESPN3.com from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Semifinals will air on ESPN-2 at 10 a.m. Thursday, with the finals at 8 p.m. on ESPN.