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Utah Speller gets second chance to advance to Finals after winning National Spelling Bee’s appeal

The judges met for two hours before reinstating the 13-year-old from southern Jordan

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Surya Kapu, 13, of South Jordan, performs during the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Wednesday, April 1.

Oxon Hill, Maryland • A southern Jordan speller has been reinstated into the Scripps National Spelling Bee field after successfully appealing that he was denied relevant stem information on a word.

Surya Kapu, 13, misspelled “leucovorin” – a drug used to counteract the side effects of a cancer drug – during Wednesday night’s final semi-final round and appeared to end his run in the bee just before the final.

Surya’s family appealed, arguing that Scripps omitted details when asking a question about the word’s roots. Spellers are allowed to ask questions about roots, and judges answer in the affirmative if a speller can identify a relevant root and its meaning.

Scripps said in a statement his judges met for about two hours before deciding to reinstate Surya late Wednesday night.

“The judges’ decision to reinstate is supported by belief in the bee’s mission to inspire exploration of words and celebrate academic achievement,” the statement said. “Upon further inspection, it was found that more relevant information to one of the speller’s questions was directly available in the dictionary. Based on this, Surya will be given the opportunity to enter Round 7 with a new word.”

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Surya Kapu, 13, of South Jordan, Utah, performs during the Scripps National Spelling Bee Wednesday, Jan.

What that means in practice: Surya gets his new word at the start of Thursday night’s final. If he spells that word correctly, he will join the 12 finalists who have already advanced to compete for more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.

Surya has a savvy spelling resume and is a student of 2015 runner-up Cole Shafer-Ray, who coached last year’s champion Zaila Vanguard.

Reinstatements are rare but not unprecedented. The most recent happened in 2018 when a competitor correctly spelled a word’s homonym without being given the definition or told that a homonym existed.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/education/2022/06/02/utah-speller-gets-second/ Utah Speller gets second chance to advance to Finals after winning National Spelling Bee’s appeal

Joel McCord

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