The word Sriram Hathwar spelled to clinch his fifth trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee was “maffick,” which means “to celebrate with boisterous rejoicing and hilarious behavior.”
CAMPBELL | The word Sriram Hathwar spelled to clinch his fifth trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee was “maffick,” which means “to celebrate with boisterous rejoicing and hilarious behavior.”
But Hathwar did no such thing.
Calm and collected, he smiled just a bit after winning the 12th annual Regional Spelling Bee - held at Campbell-Savona High School’s Stephen B. Morley Auditorium - for the fifth time in the past seven years.
But there was no boisterous rejoicing or hilarious behavior.
That’s probably because Hathwar, 13, an eighth-grader at Corning’s Alternative School for Math and Science, has bigger things on his mind.
Once again, he’s earned an all-expenses paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will be held May 28-29 in Washington D.C. and televised by ESPN.
In 2008, Hathwar was the youngest speller in the history of the event, but was eliminated in the preliminaries. In 2009, he finished 37th, and in 2011 he finished sixth. Last year, he came very close to winning it all, finishing third.
“I’m hoping this could be my year,” he said.
To qualify for nationals, though, Hathwar first had to outlast a field of 53 other contestants in Thursday’s Regional Spelling Bee, a significantly larger field than in years past. It took 13 rounds plus the championship round.
By Round 8, it was down to five spellers. Hathwar’s younger brother Jairam Hathwar, who attends the Chemung Valley Montessori School, and Jesse Larson, a homeschooler from Ithaca, missed words in the eighth round, tying for fourth.
In Round 9, Dennis Jacob - also from ASMS - bowed out, finishing third.
That left Sriram Hathwar and Loya, a precocious 9-year-old home-schooled third-grader from Ithaca who could barely reach the microphone but kept nailing impossible-sounding words. Finally, in Round 13, she missed “acidulous,” and Hathwar correctly spelled “laminar.”
He only had to spell “maffick” to clinch it, which he did.
Hathwar said the larger field in this year’s Regional Spelling Bee should help him prepare for nationals. He’s also been studying more on a daily basis, he said.
The Regional Spelling Bee was presented by the Corning Rotary Club.