#1 Indiana boy spells 'guerdon' to win national bee05-31-2008, 02:23 PM
Indiana boy spells 'guerdon' to win national bee
By JOSEPH WHITE – 4 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — After watching his sister try three times to win the Scripps Nationals Spelling Bee, Sameer Mishra put himself on a mission. "I told my mom I was going to do the bee," Sameer said. "And if I was going to do it, I was going to win it one day. And I guess it happened."
Did it ever. With the sister coaching him, Sameer augmented his spelling talent with a sense of humor that often kept the Grand Hyatt Ballroom audience laughing. The 13-year-old from West Lafayette, Ind., was finally all business when he aced "guerdon" — a word that appropriately means "something that one has earned or gained" — to win the 81st version of the bee Friday night.
"I'm not used to people laughing at my jokes — except for my sister," Sameer said.
Appearing in the bee for the fourth time and a top 20 finisher the last two years, Sameer clenched both fists and put his hands to his face after spelling the winning word. He won a tense duel over first-time participant Sidharth Chand, 12, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who finally stumbled on "prosopopoeia," a word describing a type of figure of speech.
Sameer was a crowd favorite throughout the tournament. When told one of his words in the semifinals was a dessert, he deadpanned: "That sounds good right now." He rolled his eyes and muttered "wonderful" when told that one of his words had five different language roots. He once asked "Are you sure there are no alternate pronunciations?" and later uttered "That's a relief" after initially mishearing the word "numnah" (a type of sheepskin pad).
And what did he have to say while hoisting the heavy trophy? "I'm really, really weak."
His sister, Shruti, cried after her brother's victory on a day in which she received her own big news: She was accepted to Princeton.
"A big day for the family," said Sameer's father, Krishna Mishra, who moved to the United States from central India and teaches microbiology.
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