Another Year, Another Impasse As 2 Win Scripps National Spelling Bee

May 26, 2016
Originally published on May 26, 2016 11:35 pm

At the end of the night, the Scripps National Spelling Bee was out of words — and so was Nihar Saireddy Janga, co-winner with Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar and the youngest speller to make the top 10.

"I'm just speechless," he said. "I can't say anything, I'm only in fifth grade."

It's the third straight year the bee has had two winners.

Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, was one of the youngest spellers in the top 10. He nearly won outright twice in the championship rounds following errors by Hathwar, but each time flubbed a single letter. An audience favorite, he often verified definitions of obscure words with the judges — "is that an Irish prime minister?" — rather than requesting them.

Hathwar, 13, of Corning, N.Y., follows in the footsteps of his brother Sriram, who competed in the national bee five times, and was one of two winners in 2014.

The winning words were Feldenkrais — a physical education system — for Hathwar and gesellschaft — a type of social association — for Janga.

The 10 finalists coming into the night ranged in age from 11 to 14. It was the first time four of them, including Janga, had been in the event. Five have competed once before, including Hathwar, and one had participated twice before.

They hailed from California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York and Texas. (Search for spellers in your state on the bee's website.)

The grandfather of finalist Cooper Komatsu competed in 1955.

They love Scrabble and food and math. They're boy scouts and dancers. They want to be neurosurgeons and learn how to play the ukulele.

Click on their bios to learn more:

No. 13: Cooper Komatsu

No. 16: Snehaa Ganesh Kumar

No. 20: Rutvik M. Gandhasri

No. 30: Sylvie Lamontagne

No. 38: Sreeniketh A. Vogoti

No. 74: Jashun Paluru

No. 114: Mitchell A. Robson

No. 152: Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar

No. 229: Smrithi Upadhyayula

No. 232: Nihar Saireddy Janga

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