WASHINGTON -- Scott Isaacs, 14, of Littleton, Colo., won the 62nd annual National Spelling Bee by spelling spoliator and defeating Ojas Tejani, 12, of Chattanooga, Tenn., who misspelled senescing.
It took 13 rounds Thursday for Isaacs to beat a record field of 222 young spelling aces from across the country who competed in the two-day bee. The winner claimed a $1,500 prize and the opportunity to meet Vice President Dan Quayle Friday at the White House. The runner-up got $1,000.
Isaacs, who competed in the 1978 and 1988 bees, is an eighth grader at Kent Denver Country Day School in Englewood, Colo. Tejani is a sixth grader at St. Nicholas School.
During a news conference after his victory, Isaacs said he studied more than 100 words a day since January. One of the words he studied was spoliation, which apparently helped him spell spoliator, meaning a person who robs.
He said his spelling coach, Diane Piecker, helped him in past years, 'But this year, it's almost all been my mom.'
The winner's beaming parents, Kaye and Bud Isaacs, accompanied their son to the bee.
'He's worked an awful long time. This shows that it pays to work hard,' Bud Isaacs said. 'He's a joy. He's a super kid.'
In addition to the money, Isaacs will appear on NBC's The Tonight Show. Asked which guests he would like to share the television stage with, Isaacs pointed to Tejani and said, 'I'd choose him.'
Tejani stumbled on senescing -- meaning growing old, spelling it as 'sonnessing.' To prepare for the bee, he said he studied up to 3 hours daily. He added he was not sure if he would return next year.
Earlier Thursday, words such as gamin -- a boy street urchin -- and skitzmarker -- meaning an impression left by a fallen skier -- claimed the young spellers. Thursday's words were pulled out of a dictionary rather than from a practice list, as they were for the three rounds conducted Wednesday.
Lori Wray, 14, of Lynchburg, Va., was one of the first to take her turn at the microphone Thursday. She later said boredom quickly sets in while other spellers are sweating it out.
'The waiting is the worst,' she said, adding that when she was given the word graciousity, meaning kindness, 'a million different spellings came in my head.' She came up with the right one then, but dropped out in a later round.
Kristen Kochis, 14, of Scranton,Pa., crossed herself before incorrectly spelling vitriol, meaning something highly caustic, as 'vitrial.'
Shanahan Mondal, 13, of Edinburg, Texas, was perplexed by basilica, meaning a church. The judges finally told him to spell the word after he asked for all possible pronunciations, its definition, use in a sentence and its derivation. He managed to spit out the right spelling.
Of this year's 222 contestants, there were 120 girls and 102 boys. The youngest was 9 and the oldest competitors were 15.
The first National Spelling Bee was held in 1925 with nine contestants and has been held annually except the war years of 1943, 1944 and 1945. It has grown steadily each year, with more newspapers - Scripps Howard papers and others -- sponsoring students.