By Brie Stimson, Vandana Rambaran
Published May 31, 2019
Spell it U-N-P-R-E-C-E-D-E-N-T-E-D.
After a historic 20 rounds, eight competitors were named co-champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Sixteen kids had advanced to the finals Thursday, pared down from 50 competitors after 5 1/2 hours of competition in Oxon Hill, Md.
The winners were Rishik Gandhasri, 13; Erin Howard, 14; Saketh Sundar, 13; Shruthika Padhy, 13; Sohum Sukhatankar, 13; Abhijay Kodali, 12; Christopher Serrao, 13 and Rohan Raja, 13.
The finalists spelled their way through challenging words, often relying on the Greek and Latin roots and word origins to identify the correct letters, in an effort to win $50,000 in cash and prizes.
Ten spellers were eliminated in the first round, but the competition got tighter as the rounds advanced, with fewer spellers being eliminated.
In round two only six spellers were eliminated, round three, five more departed and round four saw four kids booted. In round five, eight spellers were eliminated, finally paving the way for the final 16 prime time candidates.
Two spelling bee veterans, 14-year-old Erin Howard of Huntsville, Ala., and 13-year-old Shruthika Padhy of Cherry Hill, N.J., made it to primetime for a third year to compete.
Last year's third-place winner, 12-year-old Abhijay Kodali of Flower Mound, Texas, along with13-year-old Navneeth Murali of Edison, N.J.; 13-year-old Aisha Randhawa of Corona, Calif.; 13-year-old Rohan Raja of Irving, Texas; and 13-year-old Simone Kaplan of Davie, Fla., all returned to the spelling bee stage from previous years of competition.