- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2005

A-p-p-o-g-g-i-a-t-u-r-a spelled victory for the eighth-grader from California who yesterday won the 78th annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Northwest.

Anurag Kashyap, 13, who attends Meadowbrook Middle School in Poway, Calif., beat 272 contestants in a grueling two-day, 19-round competition, which was nationally televised on ESPN.

After misspellings from Aliya Deri, 13, and Samir Patel, 11, Anurag wrapped up first place by spelling the winning word, which means “an embellishing note usually written in smaller size.” Minutes before his victory, he correctly spelled “hodiernal,” which means “belonging to the present day.”

A teary-eyed Anurag said he felt “just pure happiness and ‘ecstatic-ness.’ ”

Not even the “S” in the Scripps sign falling off the wall behind Anurag during one of his turns in the championship round fazed him. He gathered himself and finished spelling “exsiccosis.”

Anurag is only the second Californian to win the bee and the first since Rageshree Ramachandran of Sacramento in 1988.

He advises future contestants to “have fun.”

“This contest wouldn’t be anything without the camaraderie and friendships….I couldn’t do it without” fellow contestants.

Anurag receives nearly $30,000 in prizes — $12,000 from Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, $5,000 from Franklin Electronic Publishers, $5,000 from LeapFrog Enterprises, a $5,000 college scholarship from the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation and a $1,000 savings bond from Merriam-Webster Inc.

Anurag, a straight-A student whose favorite subject is science, tied for 47th in last year’s spelling bee.

The first time around, he said, gave him an idea of what to study for this year. Aside from a few tough words such as “priscilla” and “pompier” in earlier rounds, he wasn’t faced with anything unfamiliar — though he did hear some words given to his opponents that he was happy to have avoided.

“I didn’t know ‘wizzled,’ ” Anurag said. “I’m glad I didn’t get that one.”

Second-place finisher Samir, home-schooled in Colleyville, Texas, wasn’t as fortunate. “Roscian” spelled the end for him, though he missed by only one letter and had never before heard of “Rossian.”

“It was very nerve-racking, but I’m not really disappointed,” said Samir, who tied for third place in 2003. “I knew the word that Anurag won on, but I didn’t know my word. That’s just the luck of the bee.”

Samir’s mother, Jyoti Patel, who home-schools her son and was his spelling coach, said she immediately knew her son did not know the word.

“But he made a good guess,” she said. “I think he did a very good job. He gave it a good try.”

Aliya, a Pleasanton, Calif., student, tied for second place with Samir in the final round. Her troublesome word was “trouvaille,” which means windfall.

The last student from the region to exit the competition was John Minnich, of Roanoke, who lasted until round 8 yesterday.

John, 14, an eighth-grader at William Byrd Middle School, was participating in his third national bee. He said he was focused despite being “pretty nervous.”

“Just to have the tenacity to study and to come back after [losing], I’m very proud,” said mother, Joyce, who is a teacher.

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