San Diego spelling bee champion competes at Scripps National Bee in Washington, DC

Yash Hande competed against 290 other students

Pacific Trails Middle School student Yash Hande is in Washington, D.C., this week to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Yash correctly spelled "Polynesian" in the second round and "demographic" in the third round of the competition to move on to the third round later in the morning.

Unfortunately, Yash did not qualify for the final round. 

While he spelled the words correctly in competition, he did not score high enough on his written test, requiring a score of 29 points.

Spellers who correctly spell their third-round word were moved among the maximum of 50 spellers advancing to Thursday's semifinals if their score on a test of 12 handwritten spelling words and 14 multiple choice vocabulary questions administered Tuesday is high enough.

A misspelling in either the second or third round means the contestant is eliminated.

Yash advanced to the Bee by winning the San Diego County competition in March.

Since then, Yash has spent hours every day sitting on a couch in his family's home in Carmel Valley, studying lists of words and reading out of the dictionary.

"About an hour every weekday, and 3-4 hours on weekends," he said, when asked exactly how much time he spends each day.

Yash said he started competing in spelling bees after watching his sister, Samruddhi, compete. She made it to the countywide finals, but never advanced to the national competition. Still, he was inspired by her success and wanted to go even further.

Samruddhi now helps Yash study.

Scripps National Spelling Bee:

"It feels good that I'm contributing to some of his success," she said. "I know he'll do well. He's been studying really hard."

To find extra time, Yash said he gave up watching soccer, his favorite sport, on TV.

He also has his strategy for what to do when a word stumps him.

"I like to first think about it in my head, visualize it, and then I ask for the definition, part of speech, all of the questions. Then, I finally start to piece it together in my mind," Yash said.

As for the national competition, he's trying to keep a level head about it.

"I just want to do well. I don't want to be overconfident. Just try my best, get as far as I can and make my family proud," said Yash.

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