In the end, a misspelling wasn't the downfall for northeast Indiana's representative in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Instead, a definition round during the Sunday night semifinals ended Ishan Ramrakhiani's run.
The 13-year-old Canterbury School student was one of five spellers eliminated in the competition's eighth round, tying with the others for 16th place.
Ishan was asked to define “metanoia,” which refers to a “fundamental mental or spiritual transformation.” He said it was “a fear of being followed by other people.”
“I was pretty disappointed because I knew a lot of spelling words in round nine,” said Ishan, The Journal Gazette's bee representative. “I knew if I had just picked the correct answer, then I would have gotten through to the finals.”
The so-called “word meaning rounds” require spellers to orally select the correct multiple-choice answer to a vocabulary question read by the pronouncer. Ishan understands the purpose of the definition rounds. It's not enough to know how to spell, he said; it's also important to know the significance of the words.
More than 200 spellers competed in this year's bee, which has been conducted in a virtual format since the June 12 preliminaries. Only 30 participants advanced to the semifinals.
Ishan correctly spelled one word as a semifinalist – “obley” – despite some uncertainty, he said.
His parents, Sunil and Sabeena Ramrakhiani, are “extremely proud” of him finishing 16th in his first national bee, his father said. The family also feels blessed and thankful for the community's support.
Eleven spellers are advancing to the in-person rounds July 8 at Walt Disney Resort near Orlando, Florida. The national spelling bee was canceled last year because of COVID-19.
Ishan, who is entering eighth grade, plans to continue his spelling bee preparations.
“I have the whole year to study,” he said. “Hopefully, I'll come back stronger next year.”