Last year, Vanya Shivashankar was cut from the Scripps Bee without misspelling a word. This is her last chance to win.
PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio - Stellar spellers will go toe to toe and word for word in the Scripps National Spelling Bee this week.
This year's Plain Dealer spelling bee champ Ashwin Veeramani said he knows it won't be easy to win, but he's prepared to give it his all.
The seventh grader at Incarnate Word Academy in Parma Heights has put in a lot of time. Ashwin, 13, spends up to five hours Monday through Friday and up to eight hours on the weekends studying.
"Going through the dictionary and reviewing a lot of the words that are difficult and tough, and also going through their meanings as well," he said.
Ashwin's big sister, Anamika, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2010 and got a perfect score on her SAT test last year. A passion for learning clearly runs in his family.
"He's fascinated in learning about words. He is constantly trying to expose himself to different words and new words that he has not used before. He reads a lot. He listens a lot," said spelling bee coach Janice Hearst.
"I think the fact that he's strong in math and sciences, and languages helps make him a better speller because he's bringing in words from those different subject areas into his vocabulary," Hearst said.
Ashwin said he doesn't consider any of this work.
"You have to want to do it. Over the years, it's gotten more and more competitive. As you can see at the beginning the winning word was a lot easier than today's winning word," Ashwin said.
"So it shows how competitive it gets every single year. But I like the challenge of doing it and it's sort of like you're challenged to spell the right words and sort of figuring it out and it's fun when you figure it out."
Forty-six spellers in the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee will advance to Thursday morning’s televised semifinals, including several who have been on the semifinal stage in prior years.
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