For the second time, one of Anil and Anju Mishra's children will represent the Sacramento region in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
Aditya Mishra, a sixth-grader from Excelsior Elementary School in Roseville, correctly spelled gendarme a French police officer and repoussage the process of hammering thin metal to defeat 61 competitors from six counties and win the California Central Valley Spelling Bee.
In its 30th year, the competition is hosted by The Bee and sends a champion to the national spelling bee, which is televised on ESPN.
Awards are not new for the Lincoln family. Mishra's sister, Anvita, finished ninth in the national competition after becoming regional champion in 2010. The past two years, Aditya Mishra has won the California State Elementary Spelling Bee hosted by the San Joaquin County Office of Education.
"My sister gave me advice and said don't be afraid of the lights," Mishra said, clutching the winner's trophy on Wednesday.
Mishra outlasted the two-time defending champion, Jack Maglalang. The crowd at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center gave a gasp when the Winston Churchill Middle School seventh-grader misspelled Pembroke, a word describing a type of corgi, in the fifth round. He finished in third place, missing a three-peat.
A crowd of nearly 500 classmates, teachers, parents and grandparents filled the auditorium, according to organizers. They were told to wait until the end of rounds to applaud contestants, who sat in four rows of chairs on a lit stage.
One at a time, the 62 numbered contestants walked to a microphone and listened to Bob Nathan pronounce words that increased in difficulty with each round.
"I want to give the kids every advantage possible," said Nathan, in his 27th year as spelling bee pronouncer. "They're asking more appropriate questions so they can distinguish a 'gy' from a 'ji'."
As contestants inquired about the definitions and etymologies of words, their peers fidgeted, yawned, slouched or sat stone-faced.
Judges rang a bell if a word was misspelled, and the eliminated student had usually already walked off the stage by the time Nathan finished giving the proper spelling of words selected from Webster's Third New International Dictionary, per contest rules.
Some audience members dozed off or read books at the beginning of the competition, but parents clasped their hands and bowed their heads as tension mounted in the final two rounds.
"It was suspenseful," said Clay Cantrell, the only third-grader in the competition. He advanced to the third round before leaving an "l" off the word rapscallion, and said he would come back with his five remaining years of availability.
Mishra repeated words out loud before asking questions about such words as stereognosis and idiochromatic. He said he recognized the title-clinching terms, gendarme and repoussage, from practice sessions with his parents and sister.
Mishra will compete in the national spelling bee May 26-June 1.
Call The Bee's Dan Hill, (916) 321-1067.