Secret of success for winning the spelling bee: Keep studying

NEWARK — Twenty-two consecutive times on Saturday Sage Sawhney stepped to the podium with everyone watching and correctly spelled the word presented.

The Postlethwait Middle School sixth-grader finally stumbled on “paratha.” That’s a Hindi noun that’s an unleavened Indian white bread that is usually fried on a griddle.

The dream of winning the 2019 Delaware State Spelling Bee was over, but Sawhney left host St. Mark’s High clutching a rather large third-place trophy among 77 school champions.

“I’ve always been pretty good at spelling,” Sawhney said in an understatement. “I read a lot, which helps, especially anything involving adventure.”

Leading up to elimination, Sawhney deftly handed words such as “voortrekker” and “ipecac” and “jacamar” as competitors were gradually elminated to an elite few. He had represented Postlewhait once before and said it helped calm his nerves.

“I was a little nervous at the start but had done this another time,” Sawhney said. “After the first couple times up it wasn’t so bad.”

Winning his second state title and the trip to Scripps national competition this spring that goes with it, Dupont Middle School eighth-grader Sahil Langote correctly spelled “strathspey” and “dubonnet” in the 24th and 25th rounds to close out the field.

“I keep studying and studying,” Langote said when asked afterward how he prepares.

Isabel Palmer stumbled on “redowa” and was the runnerup.

Frear Elementary School’s Milan Shah finished sixth overall after missing “ephemeral” in the 10th round.

The event began around 9:50 a.m. with the word “barley” and closed at around 1:45 p.m. First round elimination words included “scow,” “bonanza,” “dogma,”,”zenith,” “kona,” “geothermal” and “powwow” among others.

Dave Skocik emceed and presented words for the 29th year.

The national championship is scheduled for May 27 at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.

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