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San Diego 8th Grader Wins National Spelling Bee

Snigdha Nandipati of San Diego, California, holds the trophy after she has wo...

Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images

Above: Snigdha Nandipati of San Diego, California, holds the trophy after she has won the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition May 31, 2012 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.

Francis Parker School eighth grader Snigdha Nandipati will enjoy hometown-hero status when she returns to San Diego County from Maryland, where she won the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The 14-year-old completed the competition in National Harbor, Md., Thursday night by correctly spelling guetapens, meaning an ambush, snare or trap.

"I knew it,'' 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati told ESPN. "I'd seen it before. I just wanted to ask everything I could before I started to spell it.''

She called her victory a miracle.

Confetti fell to the stage at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center after her victory and she embraced her father, Kirshnarao Nandipati.

Snigdha, who tied for 27th in last year's bee, got her chance for the victory when the other remaining speller, Stuti Mishra, a 14-year-old eighth- grader from West Melbourne, Fla., misspelled schwarmerei, giving an E as the fifth letter instead of an A for the noun meaning excessive, unbridled enthusiasm or attachment.

Both Snigdha and Stuti were competing in the bee for the final time as it is limited to students in eighth grade or below.

Snigdha was among the 278 contestants at the start of the bee. The field was reduced to 50 based on the scores for a 50-word spelling test taken Tuesday and Wednesday's second- and third-round results, in which spellers receive three points for each word spelled correctly.

The competition then moved to the semifinals, where a mistake eliminates a contestant.

Snigdha began the semifinals by nailing the spelling of stochastically, meaning random. She then correctly spelled compas -- a type of Haitian music, and rhonchus -- a snoring-type sound, making her among the nine spellers in Thursday night's finals.

In the finals, Snigdha correctly spelled psammon, which refers to a group of microorganisms that live in water; ajimez, a word for an Arabic type of twin window; luteovirescent, which means greenish-yellow; saccharolytic, which describes a process of breaking down sugars; admittatur, a certificate of admission formerly given by a college or university; and arrondissement, the word for a municipal subdivision in France, before her winning word.

Snigdha will receive $30,000 from Scripps, which owns television stations and newspapers; a $5,000 scholarship from the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation; $2,600 in reference works from Encyclopaedia Britannica, including its final print edition, and a lifetime membership to Britannica Online Premium; a $2,500 U.S. savings bond; a complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster; and a Nook Color and online language course from Middlebury Interactive Languages.

Snigdha is the second Southern Californian to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which began in 1925, following Anurag Kashyap of Poway, the 2005 champion.

Snigdha enjoys reading random facts in encyclopedias, particularly in topics pertaining to science or history; likes to read whodunits and adventures; collects unique coins from around the world; is a member of her school's Yearbook Club and Science Olympiad team; participates in several math- related events; plays violin and is fluent in Telugu, which is spoken in parts of India.

"She's a terrific student,'' Francis Parker Principal Patricia McKenna told City News Service. "She's the sweetest, nicest girl.''

McKenna attributed Snigdha's spelling bee success to her passion for it - - including asking McKenna two years ago to have the school resume participating in the bee program after an absence of several years -- her hard work and technique of writing the words out in her hand with a finger before giving her answer.

A celebration at the school is expected before the end of the school year.

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