NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Elated — e-l-a-t-e-d. That's how Mason Middle School student Sahana Srikanth must be feeling after ending her Bee career as a finalist at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
After finishing tied for 76th in 2021, Srikanth made it to the finals Thursday, misspelling nerine.
Srikanth was one of two Tri-State girls who won their regional bee and traveled to the D.C. area in hopes of hoisting the Scripps Cup. Tara Rakesh of Kentucky made it to the third round of competition, finishing tied for 89th place out of 234 spellers.
Eighth-grader Srikanth was able to spell words like bursiculate, surfeit and balaam to make it to the finals Thursday. Srikanth spoke about her dad's unconventional techniques to prepare for the Bee.
"At the end of the list, he added some random word that I was like, 'What is this?' So I asked him questions as if it was a real word," Srikanth said.
"I would say a fake word tells her, you know, maybe to be humble, You know, new words and second it's making her maybe think about those new words she might encounter," her father Akkaram Srikanth said. "So that she's not that serious about spelling all the time."
Srikanth said her experience throughout the competition has been surreal. She's also pretty humble, likely thanks to her father's coaching techniques.
"I've just had so much fun, and it's so hard to process for me that the 12 spellers who are in finals, one of them's gonna be a champion, and I'm gonna know that champion, and that's just so cool," Srikanth said.
In addition to being a great speller, Srikanth crochets, plays piano and violin and is looking to create an app to help other spellers.
"[The Bee has] shaped me as a person today," Srikanth said. "And I can't, like, see myself today, how I would be like without spelling. It's like my niche. I love being on stage and spelling words. And yes, it can be nerve-wracking. But once you get over your nerves, it's just fun."
The finals, hosted by LeVar Burton, airs on ION, Bounce, Laff and TrueReal. The champion will win a $50,000 cash prize, a commemorative medal and the championship trophy as well as a $2,500 cash prize and reference library from Merriam-Webster and $400 of reference works from Encyclopædia Britannica.
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