San Diego Union Tribune

June 2, 2005

Poway speller among final 51 at national bee

By Kelly Bennett

WASHINGTON – Anurag Kashyap of Poway was a cool veteran at the 78th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee yesterday.

In his second year at the competition, Anurag, 13, remained collected, his hands in the pockets of his khaki pants, as he correctly spelled "cabochon," "priscilla" and "oligopsony" to advance to the championship rounds today.

His advancement to Round Five improved on his placement in last year's national bee, where he was eliminated in Round Four.

The first round was a 25-word, multiple-choice written test, including words such as "scherenschnitte," a German term meaning "intricate paper cutting."

Anurag was confident about the written round and said he believes he spelled all 25 words correctly.

Today, he'll face many of the friends he made last year in Washington. But that doesn't faze him.

"One of my friends told me once, 'You're not competing against friends; you're competing against the dictionary.' " Anurag said. "I'm not focused on how everyone else is doing. I'm focused on how I do with the word I get."

Anurag is one of 51 contestants advancing to the championship rounds, broadcast live today on ESPN from 7 to 9 a.m. PDT and from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT. The winner will receive more than $28,000 in cash and various prizes.

Anurag's father, Chandra Roy; mother, Archana Kashyap; and English teacher and coach, Jim Dyer, accompanied him to Washington. The San Diego Union-Tribune is sponsoring the trip.

Chandra Roy's nervousness in previous competitions has kept him from watching his son.

"I'm not nervous this year," he said. "It's Anurag's last chance, and I want to see him do well."

But his mother still can't bear to watch the competition live. "He's braver than I am," she said. "I can't take it when any kid gets the bell."

Anurag's camaraderie with the other spellers – they've studied together all week – helps him stay relaxed, he said.

"It makes the week more enjoyable," he said, as he high-fived a few of the other contestants who will join him for the championship round.

Dyer, a teacher at Meadowbrook Middle School, said Anurag has learned a lot from competing.

"It's really rewarding," Dyer said. "It will help him with discipline and in pressure situations in the future."

After yesterday's rounds, Anurag said he planned to "chill" and review for the final rounds.

Besides the monetary incentives to do well today, Anurag has another big reason to be excited he made it this far.

"I'm just glad to make it on ESPN," he said.

Kelly Bennett, a Point Loma Nazarene University journalism student, is a summer intern at the Washington bureau of Copley News Service.

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