After years of heartbreakingly close calls, Arvind Mahankali triumphed Thursday night in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The 13-year-old from Bayside Hills, N.Y., correctly spelled “knaidel,” a German-derived Yiddish word for a small mass of leavened dough, to win the 86th version of the competition.The bee tested brain power, composure and, for the first time, knowledge of vocabulary.
Arvind finished in third place in both 2011 and 2012, and both times, he was eliminated on German-derived words. This time, he got two German-derived words in the finals, including the winning word, eliciting groans and laughter from the crowd. He spelled both with ease.
Arvind outlasted 11 other finalists, all but one of whom had been to the National Spelling Bee before. Thirteen-year-old Pranav Sivakumar of Tower Lakes, Ill., finished second.