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13-year-old wins national spelling bee

‘Appoggiatura’ holds no challenge for Californian

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Anurag Kashyap holds up his trophy after winning the National Spelling Bee in Washington on Thursday.

Anurag Kashyap holds up his trophy after winning the National Spelling Bee in Washington on Thursday.

Linda Spillers, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — It was a word he already knew.

It was a word he had seen and spelled in recent days, studying the dictionary and his spelling lists with a group of friends in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. So when the Scripps National Spelling Bee judge informed Anurag Kashyap the word that would bring him the title of "spelling bee champion," he almost couldn't believe how easy it was going to be to win.

He gasped and looked at his friends, who were eliminated from the bee Wednesday and Thursday.

"He's gonna win!" Alexander Martin, a spelling bee competitor and friend of Anurag's, shrieked, as he tried to contain himself.

Then, as if he were firing a stream of bullets, Anurag began: "A-P-P-O-G-G-I-A-T-U-R-A."

The judge nodded, and the crowd wailed with excitement.

Anurag, an avid reader and straight-A student from Poway, Calif., covered his face and the thrill of the victory with his placard and then ran across the stage, hugged his father and cried.

"You deserve it, buddy!" his friend Rachel Karas yelled as Anurag smiled through a mouth full of braces and took questions from reporters.

"This is just amazing," said Anurag, known as contestant No. 20.

The 13-year-old defeated 11-year-old Samir Sudhir Patel, of Colleyville, Texas, and Aliya Deri, 13, of Pleasanton, Calif.

The final three passed three rounds together, but in the 18th, Aliya misspelled the word "trouvaille" — a windfall.

And the competition came down to Samir and Anurag.

But Samir, a favorite to win the competition, tripped on the word "Roscian," which means skilled in acting.

Then, the competition was all up to Anurag.

On Wednesday and Thursday, he spelled a variety of words: "priscilla," "sphygmomanometer," and "hodiernal."

And he clinched the championship with "appoggiatura" — a musical term.

After he won the competition, Anurag was asked if he has any advice for future spelling bee contestants.

"You must keep trying, keep studying, keep reading," Anurag told the crowd as his friends — other contestants, some crying out of happiness for him — stood in a roped off area near the stage. "But also have fun. This competition wouldn't be anything without camaraderie or friendship."

Anurag also had to endure one of the bee's more entertaining moments when the "S" on the Scripps banner on the stage came crashing down as he was in the process of spelling the word, "exsiccosis."

There were other moments of levity Thursday as the number of spellers dwindled, and the tension mounted.

One came when 14-year-old Katherine Seymour, of Huntingtown, Md., approached the microphone unsure of the word, "incunabula."

Along with the origin of the word and the definition — swaddling clothes — she asked, only half-jokingly, "And how do you spell that?" The comment drew laughter from the audience, but Katherine missed the word.

But for students who spelled their words correctly, there was excitement mixed with relief.

Evan O'Dorney, of Walnut Creek, Calif., who spelled the words, "insessorial," meaning perching or adapted for perching, and "jalousie," a blind or shutter having horizontal slats— ran back to his seat with his hands in the air, high-fiving the other contestants.

When the short boy with spiked hair and glasses sat down, he exhaled.

"I made it!" he mouthed.