A 13-year-old seventh grader from Bethesda Christian School in Fort Worth made history at the Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 29. Ansun Sujoe, along with 14-year-old Sriram Hathwar from Painted Post, New York, were the first co-champions since 1962.
Sujoe and Hathwar ended up sharing the championship after exhausting the word list. Only two words were left in the championship round, leaving them without enough for one final championship word.
Sujoe forced the co-championship by correctly spelling "feuilleton," a French word meaning "a part of a European newspaper or magazine devoted to material designed to entertain the general reader." He showed tremendous grace under pressure, as Hathwar was placed right behind him on stage during his final round.
Hathmar had no trouble with his final word, "stichomythia," which means "dialogue especially of altercation or dispute delivered in alternating lines (as in a classical Greek drama)."
The two boys were stellar throughout the competition; they hardly hesitated in spelling any of the ridiculously difficult words. The only hiccup for both came in the same round with 16 words remaining. Sujoe misspelled "antigropelos" (substituting "o" for "e"), and Hathmar missed "corpsbruder," spelling it "korbruiter" instead.
Sujoe is the first Dallas-Fort Worth area champion since Sai Gunturi won the bee in 2003, and only the fourth area champion in the bee's 89-year history.
Sujoe and Hathmar will share the prize money for first and second place, giving each $22,250, along with other prizes. Naturally, both say that money is going straight to their college funds.