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National Spelling Bee: The winner is …

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At the National Spelling Bee on Thursday night, it came down to two Texans.

The winner: Karthik Nemmani, 14, an eighth-grader from the Dallas suburb of McKinney and a first-timer at the competition.

His opening came in Round 17 when Naysa Modi, 12, a seventh-grader from the neighboring suburb of Frisco, misplaced an s in “Bewusstseinslage” (defined as “a state of consciousness or a feeling devoid of sensory components”).

Nemmani correctly spelled “haecceitas” (“the status of being an individual or a particular nature”) and sealed the deal with “koinonia” (“the Christian fellowship or body of believers”).

As champion of the 93-year-old competition, he will receive more than $42,000 in cash and prizes.

It was Modi’s fourth trip to the national bee; she finished seventh last year. She beat Nemmani at their county spelling bee this year, but he got into nationals as a wild card.

The last Bay Area speller was eliminated in Round 9, the first evening round. Anisha Rao, 12, a seventh-grader from Fallon Middle School in Dublin, drew the word “pavillon.” She spelled it “pavillant,” bringing an end to her three days of triumph at the Maryland event.

The two remaining Californian contestants — Paul Hamrick of Monterey and Aisha Randhawa of Corona — were knocked out  two rounds later.

The 16 who entered the prime-time portion, televised on ESPN, were those who made it through eight previous rounds, including a written test. The event started Tuesday with 515 spellers, ages 8 to 15.

In three of the past four Scripps National Spelling Bees, a tie was declared for the championship after the last two competitors exhausted all the words. To reduce the chances of that happening this year, the 16 finalists advancing to the evening’s competition took a written tiebreaker test of 12 spelling and 12 vocabulary questions. It would have been used to declare a champion if the competition had exceeded 25 rounds with fewer than four spellers.

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Source: East Bay National Spelling Bee: The winner is …

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