Practice makes p-e-r-f-e-c-t in spelling bee

LORETTO – Practice.


Practice is what seemed to separate Hollidaysburg seventh-grader Rohan Gupta from 13 other competitors at the regional St. Francis University Spelling Bee here Saturday.

Rohan won, so he – along with second place finisher John Rose of Frankstown Elementary School and third-place finisher Ben Pisano of Ligonier – will compete at the Western Pennsylvania Spelling Bee in Pittsburgh next month.

Rohan has been studying words about 30 minutes a day since November, when his school relaunched its participation in the regional bee after a hiatus of a few years, because of Rohan’s enthusiasm for it.

His parents – both doctors – quizzed him at their home to get him ready.

Alone among Saturday’s competitors, he made no mistakes.

“He has the form of a winner,” said bee coordinator Lauri Chose, assistant professor of English at the university.

That form includes a policy of taking advantage on most words of the competitor’s prerogative to have the word used in a sentence by the moderator and repeated an extra time.

At first, that might seem like stalling for lack of confidence.

But Rohan’s deliberate, careful, steady and confident enunciation of each letter belied that idea.

The youngster’s victory required him to spell eight words, including augury in the first round, diaphanous in the second and jitney in the third, before the final spelloff.

Ten of the 14 participants went out in the first round, which had the moderator in a panic for a while, according to Chose – who was anxious herself about the mass exodus of competitors.

That mainly showed a lack of practice, because all of those words were in the study book contestants receive, Chose said.

As far as she knows, the moderator never got beyond the “book” words throughout the competition Sunday, she said.

The second round served to bring the field to three.

Then Rohan got his next word right, while John and Ben Pisano misspelled theirs.

That led a spelloff between John and Ben for the privilege of going against Rohan for the championship.

It went several rounds.

Both got gelato wrong.

Then Ben got pantheon, John got apostate, Ben got paucity, John got aviation, Ben got impossible.

Both flubbed authoritative.

Then John got chastise, Ben got enterprise, John got cooperate, Ben got societal, and John got contrivance.

Ben flubbed sentient, however, and John got sentient right and cemented his place in the final by spelling relentlessly.

In that final, Rohan got commodity, John got deodorant, Rohan got apportion, John got anxiety, Rohan got vernal and John finally missed quantitative.

Rohan got the victory by spelling quantitative and monitory.

He was so pumped by then he forgot about his policy of asking that final word to be used in a sentence and repeated.

“I guess I wanted to get it over with,” he said.

“We have our champion,” the moderator stated.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.