The upstart ex-spellers who launched an online spelling bee to fill the void left by the canceled Scripps National Spelling Bee had little trouble running an efficient, and sufficiently challenging, competition. Replicating the drama of the ESPN-televised national finals wasn’t quite as easy. Thursday night’s winner, Navneeth Murali, was no surprise. The 14-year-old eighth-grader from Edison, New Jersey, came in with the most extensive spelling resume of anyone in the bee. When the two other remaining spellers misspelled words back to back before his turn, victory in the closest thing to a national spelling bee in this pandemic-disrupted year was his for the taking. He didn’t back down. Navneeth went through the motions of making sure he understood everything about the winning word, Karoshthi — an ancient, cursive script of Aramaic origin used in India and elsewhere in central Asia — before he started to spell. He plowed through it quickly and confidently, as he had all night. “That is correct,” SpellPundit co-founder Shourav Dasari told the assembled spellers over Zoom, “so, yeah, you’re the champion of the SpellPundit Online National Spelling Bee.” “Thank you,” Navneeth deadpanned. Then the digital confetti fell — sort of. Shourav, a high school junior… Read full this story
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