Oxon Hill, Md. – The Scripps National Spelling Bee was put to its knees on Thursday night until early Friday for eight spellings that were too prepared, too prepared and too smart for any word thrown in its way. Faced with an increasingly reduced list of words and a group of spellcasters who showed no weakness, Scripps surrendered and declared them champions, the most extraordinary ending in the 94-year history of the competition.
The eight co-champions spelled the last 47 words correctly in their historic victory in the final, going through five consecutive perfect rounds. The competition had 20 rounds in total.
"Spellbinders, we are now in unknown territory," bee forecaster Jacques Bailly told them when announcing the decision to allow up to eight winners. "We have many remaining words on our list, but soon we will be left speechless and possibly challenged, the most phenomenal collection of super spellcasters in the history of this competition."
He was not lying. The bee held three more rounds after that, and no one missed a word, did not even seem to fight.
Previously, he said, "We're launching the dictionary and, until now, you're showing the dictionary who the boss is," the Reuters news agency said.
The winners, six boys and two girls from Alabama, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas, were between the ages of 12 and 14 and called themselves "octo-champions." The winners were:
- Rishik Gandhasri
- Erin Howard
- Saketh Sundar
- Shruthika Padhy
- Sohum Sukhatankar
- Abhijay Kodali
- Christopher Serrao
- Rohan Raja
While the bee had decided to split the money from the first and second place in the event of a tie, those plans quickly fell apart and each of the spellers received the cash prize of $ 50,000. The three-day event began with 562 participants from the US. UU., The territories of the USA. UU And six other nations, said Reuters.
From 2014-2016, the bee finished with the co-champions. In 2017 and last year, the bee had a written test of breaking the spelling and vocabulary that would be used to identify a single champion if necessary. It was not necessary, and the bee officials decided that the test was too heavy and they got rid of it.
The warning signs of a jam at the top arrived early Thursday, when the first final rounds, designed to limit the field from 50 spells to a dozen, took five and a half hours and still brought a robust group of 16 children to the endings
The rules of the bee required no more than three spellcasters to share the title. The possibility of four or more winners was not considered before Thursday. Paige Kimble, the bee's executive director, said the bee officials developed a contingency plan for multiple champions after evaluating the spellers' performance in the previous final rounds.
"When we started to understand the mettle of our finalists, we started thinking about what could happen tonight," Kimble said. "We went to the night with the plan we executed that night."
Each winner had the opportunity to celebrate individually by completing their last word, although some were more demonstrative than others. Shruthika, a 13-year-old girl from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, staggered to the microphone before her last words, and after her last word, she returned to her chair and waved the hands of her fellow champions.
Sohun, a 13-year-old from Dallas, spoke for the group about how they were all satisfied with the result.
"Orthographers get better, it's natural and the speed at which people are improving is amazing," said Sohun, a former winner of both the North South Foundation spelling bee and the South Asian Spelling Bee. "Everyone learns, everyone gets much better."
But there were murmurs of discontent. Naysa Modi, last year's runner-up who surprisingly missed the final as a result of her written preliminary test score, was crying when the confetti fell.
"I'm really disappointed that I missed the finals for a mustache, and to rub the salt on the wound even more, I knew every word they asked me today since this morning," Naysa said in a text message. "However, I think the eight champions deserved it and I would like to congratulate them."
And the consensus among the spelling experts of the crowd is that Scripps did not exhaust dictionary words that can challenge the best spellcasters.
"This would never happen in my bee," said Rahul Walia, founder of the South Asian Spelling Bee, where Sohum defeated Abhijay for the title last year. "They need to use harder words, words are available."
Most spellers had personal trainers, and 13 of the 16 used wordlists and study materials compiled by former spellcasters Shobha Dasari and his younger brother, Shourav. Shobha, who is 18 and will go to Stanford in the fall, said the proliferation of private coaches and online study guides has simplified the preparation of the spelling, but still gave credit to the champions.
"The children still have to work," said Shobha.