- The Washington Times - Friday, May 31, 2002

A seventh-grader from Colorado won the 75th annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee yesterday, after 11 grueling rounds, by correctly spelling the word "prospicience" which means foresight in front of a packed ballroom at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Northwest.

Pratyush Buddiga, 13, seemed unfazed by the onslaught of words such as "amole," "oubliette," "troching," "repoussage" and "paraclete" from pronouncer Alex Cameron during the final rounds late yesterday afternoon.

Pratyush appeared almost unmoved when he was announced as the champion. The soft-spoken teen-ager, who attends Mountain Ridge Middle School in Colorado Springs, will return home next week with a trophy and $12,000.

"I can't believe I won it's a fulfillment of a dream. There were all of these repeaters, and I just wanted to place in the top five," Pratyush said later.

His mother, Rekha; his father, Jayasimha; and his younger brother were by his side at the conclusion of the competition. Mom beamed and Dad couldn't have been prouder.

"I think he did an awesome job. I was worried that he would miss some words," Mrs. Buddiga said.

That wasn't the case yesterday. But the new champ had some tough competition from Steven Matthew Nalley, an eighth-grader from Starkville, Miss., who didn't flinch when he had to spell "feretory," "altricial" or "hirundine." Steven, 14, got stumped on the word "morigeration."

After the second-round elimination on Wednesday, based on a first-of-its-kind written test that consisted of words such as "boswellize," "geusioleptic," "ananym" and "scagliola," 90 spellers returned to the stage yesterday. Kevin Moch was among the group.

Kevin, a 13-year-old from Napoleon, N.D., survived nine rounds before misspelling "miombo." This was his second trip to the national spelling bee. The eighth-grader attends Napoleon Public School and represented the Bismarck Tribune in Bismarck, N.D.

"It feels really good [to be in the fourth round]. I didn't do too well last year. I got stumped on 'pentathlon'," Kevin said.

He expected the competition, along with the words, to get tougher as the rounds advanced, but he wasn't as nervous going into the fourth round as he was in the third, which came after the written portion of the spelling bee .

"I liked the written test because most of the competitions at home are written until the finals," Kevin said.

The spelling bee wasn't all nail-biting or fidgeting by the contestants or even the audience, for that matter. But there was a little drama courtesy of perky Catherine Miller, a seventh-grader from New York.

Catherine, 12, was ask to spell "epopt." She turned to the pronouncer and repeated the word. He in turn repeated "epopt" for her over and over again. Finally, one of the judges suggested that Catherine watch Mr. Cameron's mouth as he pronounced the word yet again.

In the end, Mr. Cameron got out of his seat, walked over to the wide-eyed youngster and repeated himself for the umpteenth time. Upon returning to his seat, he bowed. The audience clapped at the theatrics.

Catherine, who has acted in six Shakespearean plays, didn't spell the word correctly, but did add some zest to the otherwise solemn afternoon.

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