National Spelling Bee Has a New Champion

Last night, Pennsylvania eighth-grader Sukanya Roy became the champion of the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee after a 25-word spell-off with 12-year-old runner-up Laura Newcombe. The 14-year-old Sukanya won after correctly spelling “cymotrichous,” a word for having wavy hair. Upon hearing the word, Sukanya traced the letters with a finger onto her left palm as she had been doing with each word, before covering her mouth upon realization that she knew exactly how to spell it. “My heart started pounding, I guess. I couldn’t believe it,” she said in a press conference after the competition, “I just wanted to make sure I spelled it right. It was kind of surreal.” As a result of the spell-off, the bee went well past its 10 p.m. expected end. Newcombe misspelled “sorites,” leaving Sukanya with the task of successfully spelling the next two words. Sukanya correctly spelled “periscii” before going on to win with “cymotrichous.” Sukanya stated she had no set method of preparation. After doing her homework, she would study the dictionary a few times over. “I guess some of the words stuck,” she said after the competition. As champion, Sukanya will receive, among other prizes, an engraved trophy, $30,000 in cash, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a complete Merriam-Webster reference library. This year’s bee last 20 total rounds and consisted of 275 spellers who traveled to suburban Washington, D.C. to participate. This, however, was not Sukanya’s first time to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but it was her first appearance in the championship finals. She placed 12th in the 2009 and 20th in 2010.