For spelling bee champ, anxious seconds before celebration began

 

It was a monotonous, meticulous, somewhat awkward end to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. but a split second after the confetti finally fell, Snigdha Nandipati, of San Diego, had her brother in her arms.

The 14-year-old eighth-grader rattled off her standard list of questions before rhythmically reciting each letter in the word “guetapens.”

When she finished spelling the word, whose definition is “an ambush snare or trap,” there was a pause, then applause started with what sounded like a single clapper in the audience. As the cheers gained steam, Snigdha swayed from side to side, winced and pursed her lip.

Twelve seconds went by without an announcement but also without that dreaded bell.

“I knew the word. I had seen it before. I had studied it,” Snigdha told The Times on Friday. “I was kind of confused. I wasn’t sure if I needed to spell another.

“When I finished spelling my word, I was going to go back to my seat," she said. "and then I realized, ‘Hey, I won.’ ”

That’s when things finally sped up. The confetti came down, and when Snigdha turned and saw the colors raining onto the stage, the focused competitor finally cracked a grin.

For spelling bee champ, anxious seconds before celebration began


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