Like historic – the longest duel between the last two contestants in the competition’s 27 years. Or epic – 40 rounds of back-and-forth before a single misspelled word. Check out the two finalists who stole the spotlight:
Try spelling “farinaceous.”
Mishra: “F-A-R-I-N-A-C-E-O-U-S. Farinaceous.”
Okay … now how about “tocopherol."
Maran: “T-O-C-O-P-H-E-R-O-L. Tocopherol.”
Um … all right … Now, do that 39 more times, without missing a single letter of a single word, while your opponent does the exact same thing. That’s what Anvita Mishra and Kajal Maran did during a two-hour final round yesterday at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center in Sacramento. Truckee 12-year-old Sam Zabell made it into Round Three before missing a word. He was impressed.
Zabell: “It’s fierce. These people spell way better than I can!”
Bee director Molly Evangelisti says she’s never seen anything like it in her 27 years running the contest.
Evangelisti: “Usually, we have a hard time getting kids to spell two in a row correct. They keep missing them. And these girls were just unbelievable.”
In fact, they were so good, organizers just about ran out of words. Evangelisti had to call the National Spelling Bee for help.
Evangelisti: “They said, go to list number two. And I said, what happens if I go all the way through that? And they’re like, let’s talk then.”
But the new list stumped everyone – even the official pronouncer. By the way, see if you recognize his voice …
Callison: “Okay, I’m looking at this word for the first time – ‘tapotement.’”
Yep, that’s our own Jeffrey Callison, the host of Insight, who spent his day getting grilled with questions like “What’s the language of origin?” and “Could you use the word in a sentence?” Finally, Elk Grove sixth-grader Kajal Maran stumbled on, well … Jeffrey?
Callison: “Your word is … ‘Pancytopenia.’”
Maran: “P-A-N-S-Y-T-O-P-E-N-I-A. Pancytopenia.”
(a bell rings, signifying an incorrect answer)
And that left the door open for Anvita Mishra, who’s an eighth grader in Roseville.
Callison: “Same word…”
Mishra: “P-A-N-C-Y-T-O-P-E-N-I-A. Pancytopenia.”
Callison: “That’s correct.”
But Mishra still had to spell the next word correctly to win. She’d gotten this far twice before in the last few minutes. And yep – the third time was the charm.
Mishra: “What does it mean?”
Callison: “Coquettish airs.”
Mishra: “Minauderies. M-I-N-A-U-D-E-R-I-E-S. Minauderies.”
Evangelisti: “We have a champion.”
(cheers and applause)
Kajal Maran took her second place finish pretty well.
Maran: “I’m feeling happy and sad at the same time, because I really wanted to win, but I’m happy with my placement now.”
She’ll be back next year to try again. As for Anvita Mishra, she’s off to the National Spelling Bee later this year in Washington, DC.
Mishra: “It’s like a dream come true. I’ve wanted to go – ever since I’ve heard about this. I’ve wanted to go.”
Mishra’s victory yesterday came in her final year of eligibility. She’d previously finished second, third and fourth.