Rishi Damarla competes in the WFCU Scripps Regional Spelling Bee at the Chrysler Theatre, Saturday, February 23, 2019. Damarla defeated runner-up Giavanna Patcas to claim first place.
Dax Melmer / WINwp
Slanderous, lactation, sockeye, and grout. These were the final four words Rishi Damarla spelled correctly to beat his spelling bee opponents and earn a spot at a U.S. national competition in Maryland.The 13-year-old Acadamie Ste. Cecile student was awarded the championship title at the WFCU Credit Union Scripps Regional Spelling Bee in round 50 at the St. Clair College Centre for the Arts. He and runner-up Giovanna Pactas from L.A. Desmarais Catholic elementary school went head to head for the final 23 rounds.“From a young age I had a good long-term memory, so I thought it would be useful in spelling bees,” Damarla said Sunday, after receiving his first-place trophy. “I started progressing to different skill levels, and I realized I was actually really good at it, so I was like, why not try?”
Runner-up Giovanna Patcas competes in the WFCU Scripps Regional Spelling Bee at the Chrysler Theatre, Saturday, February 23, 2019.
Dax Melmer /
Damarla won with the championship word “grout” after Pactas misspelled “menaced,” apparently struggling to understand the moderator, whom she asked to repeat the word several times.“I had to use the sounds of the words to piece together the letters and the formation,” said Damarla, though he had studied most of the words he encountered in Saturday’s competition. “I think of it as everyone is equally as nervous as me, so that sort of makes me calmer.”For his efforts, Damarla received a $200 scholarship cheque, a one-year membership to Encyclopedia Britannica’s premium online access, a glass container full of candy and a WFCU Roots hoodie. Most importantly, he won a six-night stay at the Scripps National Spelling Bee official hotel in National Harbour, Maryland in May, where he’ll compete in a bee that’s been going on for 94 years.He entered his first bee at age eight. Related With an-ear-to-ear grin, he held his oversized cheque and said: “I’m feeling great. It’s an amazing feeling.”Damarla said he plans to become a cardiovascular firstname.lastname@example.org/wstarcampbell