Kasapoglu spells his way through eight rounds in state bee

Kasapoglu spells his way through eight rounds in state bee

Yilmaz Kasapoglu, a 7th-grader at Birchwood Middle School, takes part in the Rhode Island Spelling Bee last Saturday. (Breeze photo by Bill Murphy)

LINCOLN – After spelling more than 20 words over 2 1/2 hours, Lincoln Middle School 8th-grader Lohith Chatragadda won the Rhode Island State Spelling Bee on his home turf last Saturday, correctly spelling “cooperate” as his championship word.

Friends and family cheered from the audience, applauding the 25 student spellers in grades 4-8 from across Rhode Island competing on St. Patrick’s Day morning.

Going 27 rounds, Chatragadda and the second-place winner, Anna Costello, a 6th-grader at Gallagher Middle School in Smithfield, went head-to-head for 10 rounds before Chatragadda prevailed.

His second time competing at the state level, Chatragadda made the top five in last year’s state bee, lasting 15 rounds. This year, he got the win by correctly spelled the words, “aioli,” “agave,” “unicameral,” and “efficacy,” among others.

Chatragadda, 13, and his family will travel to National Harbor, Maryland, to represent Rhode Island in the Scripps National Spelling Bee May 29-31.

Saying he felt great after his big win, Chatragadda, who enjoys science, said his preparation for nationals will involve reading the dictionary.

In round 16 at the state bee, the judges decided to jump ahead in the word list, which became more difficult as it progressed.

In that round, the top five spellers competed, including 8th-grader Caden Dillon of St. Kevin School in Warwick, and two 4th-graders: Logan Lane of Hugh Cole Elementary School in Bristol/ Warren, and returning competitor Aathraey Shrikanth from Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy in Cumberland.

Knocked out in that round, Shrikanth misspelled “potsherd,” a word meaning a broken piece of ceramic, spelling it “p-o-t-u-r-e-d.” Lane and Dillon both were nearly correct on their words, putting “i” instead of a “y” in “myocardiograph” and “chrysanthemum,” respectively.

Both Costello and Chatragadda were given two opportunities for the win when given a championship word after their opponent misspelled a word, but ultimately, Chatragadda won. First, in round 18, Costello spelled “carotid” incorrectly, sounding out “ c-o-r-r-a-d-e-d,” after Chatragadda missed “theomachy,” beginning the word with “p-h-l,” instead of “t-h.” Then, in round 20, Chatragadda misspelled the championship word, “polydomous,” replacing the “d” with a “t.”

The next rounds evolved into more of a guessing game, as both spellers tried their best to sound out words such as, “sillographer,” horotelic,” “nectarivorous,” and “telegnosis.” The spellers struggled but failed to spell difficult words such as “nociceptive,” “hebdomadal,” and “erythrocyte,” and after six rounds, the judges decided to go back to the list of more common words. Later, in round 25, Costello nearly took the win, but misspelled “talmud.” Finally, in round 28, Chatragadda properly spelled “pungent,” while Costello misspelled “stressor,” using “e” instead of “o.”

This is Chatragadda’s final eligible year to compete in the spelling bee, but Costello will still be eligible for two more years.

Tracing out letters on her palm, Charlotte Illingworth, a 7th-grader from Scituate Middle School, was eliminated in the second round, missing the word “worrisome.” Nicholas Moskalenko, a 5th-grader from Halliwell School in North Smithfield, was out during that round too, missing the “k” in huckster.

Noah LaCroix, a 5th-grader from Captain Isaac Paine School in Foster/Glocester, made it to the third round, correctly spelling “newton,” and “fiery,” before misspelling “prattle.”

In round 8, Yilmaz Kasapoglu, a 7th-grader from Birchwood Middle School in North Providence, tried to figure out the spelling of “buccaneer,” getting caught up in a pause after the first half of the word.

“N ... I mean! Ugh…” he said, after adding an additional “n.” One of the rules at the bee is that once a word has begun it cannot be started over, and Kasapoglu finished 11th.

Given the word for a traditional boat-shaped Russian drinking vessel, or “kovsh,” Estella DelMoro, an 8th-grader from North Cumberland Middle School, asked for the language of origin and definition. Spelling it with a “c” instead of a “s,” DelMoro finished 9th in round 11.

Donna Morelle, former superintendent of Cumberland schools, Martha Correia of Navigant Credit Union, and Leigh Martin, CCRI professor of English, judged the 2018 Rhode Island Spelling Bee Championship.

Tom Ward, Valley Breeze publisher and sponsor of the bee, began with opening comments, introduced the spellers and serving as event coordinator. Returning for his fourth and final year as pronouncer was Jared Pliner, reporter and anchor for WPRI Channel 12. Other sponsors include Navigant Credit Union, Hunter Insurance, Anchor Suburu, and Dave’s Marketplace.