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Sabre Springs seventh grader makes third round of National Spelling Bee

Mihir S. Konkapaka
Posted at 11:07 AM, May 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-30 14:07:28-04

SABRE SPRINGS (CNS) - A seventh-grader from Sabre Springs advanced to the third round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee Tuesday, moving within one round of fulfilling his goal of improving on last year's performance by advancing to the quarterfinals.

Mihir S. Konkapaka correctly spelled vexillologist, a noun meaning a person who studies flags, according to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, the bee's official dictionary.

The Mesa Verde Middle School student then correctly answered his second-round multiple-choice word meaning question, "Jingoism is:" selecting "loud or arrogant nationalism."

The third round is scheduled to begin Tuesday at 1:25 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Mihir will be the 10th speller to compete.

The competition at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland is being streamed on spellingbee.com, ION Plus and Bounce XL.

RELATED: Here's how you can watch the 95th Scripps National Spelling Bee

The quarterfinals and semifinals will be held Wednesday and the finals Thursday.

The 12-year-old qualified for the national bee by repeating as winner of The San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee, correctly spelling exsufflation, a noun meaning "forcible breathing or blowing out (as in clearing the respiratory tract)," as the final word.

In the 2022 national bee, Mihir correctly spelling gypsophila, any of various plants of the genus Gypsophila in the pink family, then correctly answered the multiple-choice word meaning question, "What is a reprisal?" selecting, "an act of retaliation, as for an injury or other harm."

Mihir was eliminated in the third round when he misspelled antiphonal, an adjective meaning sung, recited, or played alternately by two groups, spelling it antifinal.

"It was a fun experience, although I was a little bit nervous as it was my first ever in-person spelling bee participation," Mihir told City News Service in an email interview.

"I learned to not give up in the face of losing or an unfavorable outcome but instead to persevere and continue pursuing my goals."

Mihir said he prepared for the 2023 national bee by "using online resources, books and tips from previous spelling bee finalists and winners. I used the Word Club app to study and also coded a program myself in Python to help me quiz with words."

Mihir first competed in a spelling bee as a sixth grader at Poway Unified School District Connect Academy in the 2021-22 school year because "the preliminary classroom written test was a requirement for my sixth grade language arts class," he said.

The national bee began Tuesday with a field of 231 spellers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, the Bahamas, Germany and Ghana.

The bee is limited to students in eighth grade or below. Contestants for the 95th edition of the national bee range in age from 9 to 14.

The winner will receive $50,000 from the Scripps National Spelling Bee, $2,500 and a reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam- Webster and $400 in reference works from Encyclopedia Britannica and a three- year membership to Britannica Online Premium.

San Diego County has produced two national spelling bee champions -- Anurag Kashyap in 2005 and Snigdha Nandipati in 2012.