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Nesconset girl out after prelims in national spelling bee

Speller Jhanvi Ravishankar (157), of Nesconset, competes during

Speller Jhanvi Ravishankar (157), of Nesconset, competes during the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md. on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. Credit: MCT / Chuck Myers

An eighth-grader from Nesconset's Great Hollow Middle School, who won a hard-fought slot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, was eliminated from the competition Wednesday.

Jhanvi Ravishankar, 13, wearing the number 157 in the preliminaries, correctly spelled both "lederhosen," a type of leather shorts often worn with suspenders, and "larithmics," the scientific study of the quantitative aspects of population, in rounds held Wednesday afternoon.

But she misspelled several words on a computer-based test that was factored into her overall performance. She and other contestants took that exam Tuesday.

Ravishankar's participation in the national bee -- held in National Harbor, Maryland, outside the nation's capital -- followed her February victory in the Hofstra Long Island Regional Spelling Bee.

Then, she and another student battled for nearly 15 minutes, each vying for a chance to compete at the national level. She correctly spelled "rorqual," a type of whale, to win.

Ravishankar said Wednesday that she was disappointed, but that she was proud of her performance on stage. She felt poised and ready to speak before both the audience and the judges, she said, and was glad for the boost of confidence.

She said she spent months preparing for the event, studying some 30,000 words, sometimes for hours a day. Her teachers agreed to hold off on issuing homework during her final week of preparation as long as she agreed to study the entire time, she said.

"I tried my best and put in as many hours as possible," she said.

Her parents, both software engineers, said they were thrilled with her success.

"She came up to this level," said her father, Ravishankar Moorthy. "We are so proud of that. She did, for us, an excellent job."

This year's national contest included 281 spellers -- 142 girls and 139 boys. About three-quarters were in the seventh or eighth grades; the youngest was in the second grade.

Fifteen students were from New York.

Ravishankar, who hopes to study investments and financial management in college, spends most of her time reading and playing video games, she said.

She will attend Smithtown High School East in September.

The 46 semifinalists took a computer-based test Wednesday night, and Thursday will compete in live rounds that will be broadcast on ESPN2 starting at 10 a.m. The finals are slated for broadcast at 8 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.


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