WASHINGTON – As she walked off the stage in defeat Thursday,there were no tears because Maithreyi Gopalakrishnan knew she would return.
Maithreyi left the 78th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in a tie for 37th place,but she promised that next year she would advance further.
Maithreyi,of Superior,Colo.,advanced to Round 5 with 51 other spellers Thursday after four rounds on Wednesday. But that was it. She was one of 15 disqualified in Round 5.
She misspelled “ligniperdous” as “lignapurdous,” which means something that destroys wood.
Anurag Kashyap,13,of Poway,Calif.,took home the trophy by spelling “appoggiatura,” a musical term,in Round 19.
With spotlights and the audience focused on her,Maithreyi began to feel the heat because she did not know the word.
“I was hoping that I would get a word I knew. I sort of knew it,” she said. “I was really nervous because I wasn't sure.”
Although Maithreyi left without the championship cup and other prizes worth more than $28,000,she will receive $300.
The experience was worth more than the $300 to Maithreyi. Although this is the second opportunity that Mathreyi has had at the National Spelling Bee,she has learned techniques to help her compete better.
Mathreyi said she and speller Kimberly Rachel Campbell Ols from Jacksonville,Fla.,talked on stage during the competition about other spellers' words.
They spelled words to each other and dissected them to their roots to understand their meanings. She said this was one method that helped strengthen her skills.
Maithreyi said she also began to spell words with her finger on her speller's number card hanging on a cord around her neck after she saw other spellers use the technique. She said that imagining the word being spelled out helped her to visualize it correctly.
She said she leaves excited about all she has experienced,even though she didn't win.
“It was when I got past the written round,” Maithreyi said about a memorable moment as Speller No. 36. “They called 36 but I didn't hear it. It kind of dawned on me.”
Maithreyi said that an even more memorable event was when she spelled “musteline” correctly in Round 4. It means of or relating to weasels.
“I think making it past the first day and being on TV was exciting,” she said.
Although Maithreyi hopes to attend next year's National Spelling Bee,she said she does not know what new techniques she may use to prepare.
Whatever her plans may be,her parents have faith in her.
“She has worked a lot this year,and it's paid off,” said her father,Murali Gopalakrishnan. “I'm sure her vocabulary will get stronger as the year goes on.”
Maithreyi looked disappointed as she left the comfort room at the National Spelling Bee,where spellers are allowed some privacy when they are eliminated. But she returned to the hotel ballroom to watch the competition.
“I'm definitely coming back next year,” said Maithreyi.