Harini Logan wins the Spelling Bee in the first ever tiebreaker

OXON HILL, Md. – Harini Logan was once eliminated from the Scripps National Spelling Bee and then reinstated. In a grueling argument with Vikram Raju, she missed four words, including one that would have earned her the title.

In the first-ever blitz lap tiebreaker, Harini eventually clinched the trophy.

The 13-year-old eighth-grader from San Antonio, Texas, who attended the last fully personal bee three years ago and survived the pandemic to make it back, spelled 21 words correctly during a 90-second ban. Beat Vikram at six.

Harini, one of the most well-known spellers to enter the bee and a crowd favorite for her composure and positivity, wins more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.

Perhaps no champion has ever had more errors in the finals, but Harini deserved it none the less.

She is the fifth Scripps champion to be coached by Grace Walters, a former book writer, Texan, and student at Rice University who is considering retiring from the coaching business. If so, she will leave at the top.

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The key moment came during the much-discussed bee multiple-choice vocabulary round, when Harini defined the word “pullulation” as the nesting of mating birds. Scripps said the correct answer was the swarm of bees.

But wait!

“We did a little bit of research after you were done, and that’s our job to make sure we made the right decision,” senior judge Mary Brooks told Harini. “We (did) dive a little deep into that word and indeed the answer you gave to that word is considered correct, so we’ll be hiring you again.”

From there, Harini stormed into the final against Vikram. You each spelled two words correctly. Then Scripps uttered the toughest words of the night.

Both spelled wrong. Then Vikram missed again and Harini got “sereh” right, which put her a word off the title. The word was “drimys” and she got it wrong.

Two more rounds, two more misspelled words each, and Scripps took out the podium and buzzer for the blitz round, which all the finalists had practiced for hours earlier in the mostly empty ballroom.

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Harini was consistently faster and sharper, and the judges’ final record confirmed her victory.

The last fully personal version of the bee had no tiebreaker and ended in a draw of eight. The bee 2020 was canceled due to the pandemicand in 2021 it was mostly virtual, with only 11 finalists meet in Florida when Zaila Vanguard became the first black American champion.

The changes continued this year, as Scripps ended his contract with longtime partner ESPN and produced his own television show for his networks ION and Bounce, featuring actors and literacy advocates LeVar Burton as host. The transition was bumpy at times, with long and uneven commercial breaks interrupting the action and audio glitches revealing the show’s inner workings to local audiences.

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The bee itself was slimmer, with less than half of the participants it was 2019 due to sponsors dropping out and a wildcard program ending. And the spellers had to answer vocabulary questions live on stage for the first time several surprise semi-final eliminations.

Harini’s departure from a vocabulary briefly came as the biggest shock of all. Then she was back on stage, and in the end she was still there.

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Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols.

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https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/06/03/harini-logan-wins-spelling-bee-in-1st-ever-tiebreaker/ Harini Logan wins the Spelling Bee in the first ever tiebreaker

Sarah Y. Kim

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