After a two-week 90-round gruelling battle, a 13-year-old Indian American student Kush Sharma finally broke a tie in a local county contest to go to the National Spelling Bee competition.
The Indian champ Saturday faced his 11-year-old adversary Sophia Hoffman again to resume the Jackson County Spelling Bee in Kansas City, Missouri, that had ended in a tie Feb 22 when the judges ran out of words.
The two had eliminated 23 other contestants and went another 47 rounds against each other in their previous encounter, according to the newspaper Kansas City Star.
But in the end, in the 29th round on Saturday, Kush, a seventh-grader from Kansas City, won with not a tongue twister but a simple word — “definition” after Sophia, a Lee’s Summit fifth-grader stumbled on her word — “stifling” — in Round 28. In their previous epic battle, the two had traded tough words like “madeleine” for “scherzo”, “mukhtar” for “bobbejaan” for more than five hours before judges ran out of words resulting in a tie. But Scripps officials rejected a groundswell push on Twitter to “Send Them Both!” to the nationals in May.
In Saturday’s contest, neither skipped a beat until Sophia’s miss in Round 28. During the ensuing break, she gathered with her family, and Kush saw Sophia crying. He walked over and bent to her. “Stop crying or you’re going to make me cry,” he told her, according to the Star. She looked up and laughed.
Indian-Americans have dominated the contest over the years. New York student Arvind Mahankali won the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.