Spelling Bee Champ Felt 'Ecstatic-ness'

Eighth-grader Anurag Kashyap (search) is good at math, science and geography. But rapid-fire spelling -- that's his forte.

Whizzing through words most people never heard of, the 13-year-old from Poway, Calif., won the 2005 national spelling bee championship on his second try as a contestant.

"I was really nervous because I worked really hard on that and I wanted to do good," Anurag said Friday in a TV interview. He had to guess at a few words he hadn't studied, including "priscilla" (a ruffled curtain) in the third round, Anurag said.

But he exuded confidence as he spelled the final, winning word Thursday. He rushed through "appoggiatura" (melodic tone), and ran into his father's arms and burst into tears. He said he felt "just pure happiness" and later coined his own word, "ecstatic-ness."

A straight-A student, Anurag has represented his school at the California Geographic Bee and recently took part in state-level math and science competitions.

He beat out 272 other competitors in the 19th round of the 78th annual National Scripps Spelling Bee (search) to win $30,000 in cash, scholarships and books.

Anurag sailed through "prosciutto," an Italian dry-cured ham, and "sphygmomanometer," an instrument for measuring blood pressure.

He sometimes spelled so quickly that only the judges appeared to be able to follow him.

Anurag tied for 47th in last year's spelling bee. That experience "helped me to know what I should study to ... like, win this thing," he said at a news conference, repeatedly hiding his face behind a cardboard number that hung around his neck during the contest.

Tied for second place were 11-year-old Samir Patel, who is home-schooled in Colleyville, Texas, and Aliya Deri, 13, of Pleasanton, Calif.

"I'm disappointed," Samir said, adding that he will try again next year.

Aliya, who will begin high school next year and be ineligible for the 2006 contest, said she was happy with how well she did.

She said after the contest that French is one of her favorite subjects.

"Though you wouldn't know it by the way I spelled the last word," she said. She was eliminated when she missed "trouvaille," a lucky find.

Samir delighted the audience with several of his questions and comments. Twice on hearing a word he had to spell that was familiar to him he said, "Yes!"

Upon correctly spelling "filiciform," in the sixth round, the home-schooled Samir yelled, "Thanks, Mom!"

Samir ultimately stumbled on the word "Roscian," meaning skilled in acting. Two years ago, when Samir tied for third place, bee winner Sai Gunturi predicted he would be a force to be reckoned with.

Each speller won at least $50. Anurag gets $28,000 in cash, scholarships and savings bonds, plus books from Encyclopedia Britannica.

The contest is administered by E.W. Scripps Co. The youngsters all won local contests sponsored by newspapers.