‘I was pretty confident…’: Indian-origin Bruhat Soma wins National Spelling Bee competition in US – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Indian-origin Bruhat Soma won the National Spelling Bee competition in the US after a lightning-round tiebreaker known as a “spell-off.”
The 12-year-old seventh-grader from Tampa, Florida, crossed all the hurdles and showed remarkable composure as he raced through 30 words in just 90 seconds on Thursday night.
Despite the rapid pace, Bruhat spelled 29 of the words correctly, outshining his competitor, Faizan Zaki, by nine points.This stellar performance earned Bruhat the coveted title, a trophy and over $50,000 in cash and prizes.
“I was pretty confident that I had a chance at winning because I’ve been working so hard,” Bruhat said, explaining his rationale for spending so much time on a tiebreaker he might not even need. “And I really wanted to win. That’s why I practiced the spell-off so much.”
The last word that gave Bruhat the spelling bee trophy was ‘abseil’ which means “descent in mountaineering using a rope looped over a projection above.”
Shortly after Bruhat was showered with confetti and handed the trophy, Faizan was in tears at the side of the stage, accepting hugs from other spellers. A few minutes earlier, he had embraced his good friend, Shrey Parikh, after Shrey was eliminated.
Faizan spelled his final word in the regular competition in walk-off fashion, dashing through “nicuri” without asking a single question and striding back to his seat, a moment that recalled Shourav Dasari’s mic-drop spelling of “Mogollon” in 2017.
But the 12-year-old sixth-grader from Allen, Texas, wasn’t given a chance to do it again.
“I definitely think they should have been given an opportunity to have some conventional spelling rounds before they defaulted to the spell-off,” said Scott Remer, one of four coaches who worked with Faizan.
Heading into the competition, Bruhat clinched victory in multiple spelling bees. He triumphed in the Words of Wisdom bee hosted by Remer, a former speller and author of study guides. Additionally, he emerged victorious in the SpellPundit bee organized by the corresponding study guide company. Moreover, he secured the top spot in the inaugural online bee, officiated by Dev, the Scripps champion from the previous year.
His most recent setback occurred in September at the WishWin senior spelling bee, where he stumbled over “Gloucester,” a cheese named after a city in England. He admitted to recognizing the city but was unaware of its association with cheese, ultimately guessing “glaucester.”
Bruhat is the second straight champion from the Tampa Bay area, and his victory means 29 of the last 35 spelling champs have been Indian American. His parents immigrated from the southern Indian state of Telangana, a region that’s well-represented among the run of Indian American champions and contenders that began in 1999.
(With inputs from agency)

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