- Eight students were named co-champions of the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee, which was presented Thursday in prime time on ESPN.
- It was an unprecedented moment. Each contestant will take home a $US50,000 prize.
- Official pronouncer Jaques Bailly announced that at the end of round 20, whoever was still remaining would be named co-champions, after eight competitors remained after 17 rounds.
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Eight students were named co-champions of the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee, which was presented Thursday in prime time on ESPN.
It was an unprecedented moment, where the dictionary was no match for these impressive spellers.
Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhatankar, Abhijay Kodali, Christopher Serrao, and Rohan Raja were named co-champions.
Five-hundred and sixty-four contestants – ages 7 to 14 – participated in this year’s competition, which took place at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbour, Maryland. That number – the most participants ever – was whittled down to 50 in the semifinals, and then to 16 in the finals (many of them who had competed in the Bee before).
The competition was a fierce slog. After 17 rounds – with eight spellers remaining – Jacques Bailly, the official pronouncer and former Bee winner, made a surprising announcement.
“Champion spellers, we are in uncharted territory,” Bailly said. “We do have plenty of words remaining on our list, but we’ll soon run out of words that can possibly challenge you, the most phenomenal assemblage of super spellers in the history of this competition.”
He then announced that at the end of round 20, those remaining would be named co-champions.
Round after round, the participants – each with their own methods and personalities – spelled words with origins from Afrikaans, Korean, American Spanish, Sanskrit, Tagalog, and more, as organisers tried to stump participants. Words included “allothimorph,” “auftaktigkeit,” “sphaeriid,” and “nyaya.”
As The Washington Post points out, as the competition has become “ultracompetitive” – students now often have personal spelling coaches and also learn root words and origins.
The 16 finalists are below. The champions are in bold:
- Rishik Gandhasri from San Jose, California
- Simone Kaplan from Davie, Florida
- Aisha Randhawa from Corona, California
- Erin Howard from Huntsville, Alabama
- Nicholas D’Sa from Tustin, California
- Saketh Sundar from Clarksville, Maryland
- Alice Liu from Chesterfield, Missouri
- Yolanda Ni from Hattiesburg, Mississippi
- Navneeth Murali from Edison, New Jersey
- Colette Giezentanner from Saint Louis, Missouri
- Shruthika Padhy from Cherry Hill, New Jersey
- Sohum Sukhatankar from Dallas, Texas
- Abhijay Kodali from Flower Mound, Texas
- Christopher Serrao from Whitehouse Station, New Jersey
- Rohan Raja from Irving, Texas
- Hephzibah Sujoe from Fort Worth, Texas