He was one of the 13 boys and girls to reach the championship round, and the only speller left from Maryland, Virginia or the District.
The home-schooled seventh-grader competed in the spelling bee last year, but didn’t make it past the semifinal round.
Surjo Bandyopadhyay, of Lusby, Md., got a laugh upon being asked to spell “lysozyme.”
“Give me all the information you can on this word,” the 14-year-old said to head pronouncer Jacques Bailly.
After proclaiming “nachschlag” a “strange word,” then misspelling it, Surjo got another laugh when he shouted “Whoah. OK” as he learned how far off he was from the correct spelling.
Back for his third shot at the title, Longmont, Colo., resident David Phan used the back of his name tag to mime writing his words. The technique helped the 14-year-old through a few rounds, but he ended his run with a big sigh after incorrectly adding an “a” to “ocypode.”
Some spellers needed only a few hints from the judges, confidently spelling such words as “chresard,” “pallium” and “palynology,” then returning to their chairs before the judges finished nodding in approval.
Others cheered with their hands in the air after squeaking by a word or offered an audible “whew” after a pregnant pause listening for the judge’s “incorrect” bell to ring.
“I think I’ve got this” announced Anna-Marie Sprenger, an eighth-grader from Provo, Utah, each time she spelled a word, though she missed “privatim” and thus denied a spot in the championship round.
After watching in awe as her two-minute personal story aired live on ESPN, Emily Keaton, of Louisville, Ky., was the first to go in the semifinal round.
The 12-year-old forgot the first “c” in “sciamachy,” but found comfort from her parents as she cried silently behind her wavy blond curls.
When the 275 spellers first arrived in Maryland, they took a written test followed by two preliminary rounds. But before these spellers could participate in the national bee, they had qualify by winning a local spelling bee conducted by a community spelling bee program.
This year’s group was almost evenly divided between boys and girls, and most participants came from the seventh and eighth grades. The spellers had to be in eighth grade or lower.