Saturday, June 5, 2010

2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee: Queens' own Arvind Mahankali eliminated from semifinals

Arvind Mahankali competes in round four of the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee Semifinals Friday. His word? 'Effleurage.'
WASHINGTON - Arvind Mahankali of Queens was the last youngster eliminated from the semifinal round of the national spelling bee Friday, and lots of parents and kids spelled the outcome this way: U-N-F-A-I-R.

The 10-year-old whiz from Forest Hills missed on presa, a musical direction. He incorrectly spelled it P-R-A-S-A.

That left a field of 10 contestants, the number wanted by ABC to fill two prime-time hours for the finals last night.

Arvind and seven others were eliminated on their third word in the semifinals. But six kids still waiting to be tested on a third word were declared "finalists" by directors of the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

"It's so unfair for him," said Sonia Schlesinger, 14, of Tokyo, one of Arvind's new pals from the contest. "I think it's completely wrong."

Sonia was knocked out a round before Arvind.

Anamika Veeramani, a 14-year-old from North Royalton, Ohio, spelled "stromuhr," a medical term, to win the bee. She'll take home $40,000 in cash and prizes.

Anil Mishra, of Sacramento, Calif., whose daughter, Anvita, 13, fell in the same round as Arvind, complained that "they just closed off the competition to accommodate TV."

Bee Director Paige Kimball blew off a group of complaining parents, saying, "I suggest you read the rules."

"I'm a little bit disappointed. I just missed by one," Arvind said later, but he added that he would "definitely" be back for another try next year.

Earlier, Arvind correctly spelled "metarteriole," a small blood vessel, as well as "effleurage," a type of massage, and bounced around the stage high-fiving and low-fiving other contestants. He finished 11th out of 274 contestants in Washington, and about 11 million worldwide who participated in qualifying bees.

"I'm really so proud of him," said his mother, Bhavani Mahankali. "He studied so hard and he came so far."

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