We can only guess how grueling it must have been for the contestants and how nerve-wracking it was for their families and friends as the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee wound down to its nail-biting conclusion Thursday night in National Harbor, Md.

Which makes it all the more impressive that Maine spelling champion Lily Jordan was cool, composed and still smiling when she finally missed a word after spelling her way into the finals along with 12 other youngsters from across the country.

Lily, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Cape Elizabeth Middle School, had previously disposed of “dolichopodous” and “Cassiopeian,” among other mind-bending, tongue-twisting words, before finally hitting the wall on “phanerogam.”

She’d have had that one right, too, except for substituting an “f” for “ph” at the start.

A phanerogam, by the way, is a seed plant or a flowering plant. In case you didn’t know.

Competing in the national tournament for the second straight year, she was one of eight second-time entrants. Lily finished in a tie for 10th place. She earned the trip to Maryland by winning the Maine State Spelling Bee, which was sponsored by NextGen and hosted by MaineToday Media, owner of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel. MaineToday Media sponsored her trip to the finals.

A daughter of Glenn and Nancy Jordan — Glenn is a Press Herald/Sunday Telegram sportswriter — Lily hauled down a $1,500 cash prize for reaching the finals and racked up a priceless amount of bragging rights for Maine.

Not just as her sponsor in the contest but as the leading news organization in her home state, we congratulate Lily for her hard work, her spirited and determined competitiveness and her gracious demeanor throughout the competition.

We’re proud of her and we know that all her fellow Mainers are as well.