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Kashyap spells appoggiatura to win crown

WASHINGTON -- Bursting into tears, eighth-grader Anurag
Kashyap of California became the U.S. spelling champ Thursday,
beating 272 other spellers in a tough two days of competition. He
said he felt "just pure happiness."

Anurag, 13, of Poway clinched "appoggiatura," a melodic tone,
to take home some $30,000 in prizes. He won in the 19th round of
the 78th Annual National Scripps Spelling Bee.

Anurag, a straight-A middle-school student whose favorite
subject is science, tied for 47th in last year's spelling bee. That
experience "helped me to know what I should study to ... like, win
this thing," he said afterward, repeatedly hiding his face behind
his cardboard number.

Tied for second place were 11-year-old Samir Patel, who is
home-schooled in Colleyville, Texas, and Aliya Deri, 13, a
Pleasanton, Calif., student.

Aliya was tripped up in the 18th round by "trouvaille,"
meaning windfall. Just after, Samir fell to "Roscian,'' meaning
skilled in acting. Two years ago, when Samir tied for third place,
bee winner Sai Gunturi predicted that he would be a force to be
reckoned with in future contests.

When the sixth round ended in the early afternoon of the second
day, only 27 spellers remained, including a half dozen
home-schoolers. Home-schooled students have won twice before, in
1997 and 2000.

After the 14th round, only three spellers still stood -- Anurag,
Aliya and Samir.

During the day, Anurag whizzed through relatively easy words
such as prosciutto, an Italian dry-cured ham, and more difficult
ones like hodiernal, meaning "of this day."

Needing only one more correct spelling to win, he began
methodically, going faster and faster as he finished the long word:
"A-P-P-O-G-G-I-A-T-U-R-A." He covered his face and rushed to hug
his father.

Most of the contestants at the bee's start were from the United
States and its territories, but 14 were foreign students. There
were 11 from Canada and one each from the Bahamas, Jamaica and New
Zealand.

It was in the fourth round Wednesday that Dominic Errazo got a
word he could relate to, "emetic," which means inducing one to
vomit.

"It sounds like the nervousness I get up here," said the
seventh-grader from Goose Creek, S.C. He spelled it correctly.

Each speller wins at least $50. The first-place winner gets
$28,000 in cash, scholarships and bonds, plus books from
Encyclopedia Britannica. That's about $10,000 more than in previous
years.

The contest is administered by E.W. Scripps Co. The youngsters
all won local contests sponsored by newspapers.