After an incredible run, Gokul Venkatachalam's competitive journey through the English vocabulary has ended.
Venkatachalam, a student at Claymont Elementary School, had advanced to the semifinal round yesterday after correctly spelling "quotidian" and "widdershins" during preliminary rounds yesterday.
During today's semifinals, held at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center just outside Washington, D.C. in Maryland, Venkatachalam tripped up on the word "kahikatea" a word of Maori origin referring to a type of coniferous tree found in New Zealand.
Venkatachalam misspelled the word as "kaikatea".
Earlier in the semifinal rounds, Venkatachalam correctly spelled "Frore" and "Souterrain."
Unlike in yesterday's preliminary rounds, if you misspelled a word, you were eliminated from competition by the chime of a bell.
Venkatachalam expertly made it into the semifinals, in which 278 competitors were whittled down to about 50. Then, by the start of his last round there were 21 remaining, then 14. Just nine kids made the finals. He was very, very close.
The Chesterfield student is a fifth-grader, competing among 6th- 7th- and 8th-graders. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after his misspell, that he has three more years to compete.
Our Chesterfield champ defeated 35 others in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Spelling Bee last month, which propelled him into the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee this week.
Today's semifinal rounds were televised live on ESPN2. The final rounds will be broadcast later today on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m.