SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A San Jose 8th grader is one of 16 students from California competing at the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee outside Washington D.C. this week.
KPIX 5 caught up with Rutvik Gandhasri before he left.
He packed a suitcase full of clothes and a heart full of excitement.
“On a scale of one to ten, probably an eleven. Like supercharged,” he smiled.
The Chaboya Middle School student won the CBS Bay Area Regional Bee in March.
That earned him a return trip to Scripps National Spelling Bee outside Washington DC.
Last year, he missed on the word “betony.”
He placed sixth among nearly 300 of the nation’s super-spellers.
This is the eighth grader’s last chance before he’s too old to compete.
“This year I really studied a lot more because after last year, I honestly believe that I could win it,” he explained.
Rutvik has studied more than 30 hours a week, sometimes with his younger brother or mother.
The practice prepares him for this year’s new feature: A tiebreaker designed to avoid a fourth consecutive year of co-champions.
It’s a handwritten spelling and vocabulary test of 12 words.
“I think it’s a great idea of have a tiebreaker test, because they don’t really want to have two winners,” explained Rutvik. “And for some people, having two winners lowers the fame on the whole thing.”
But outside of the competition, past contestants have this advice:
The 2015 Bay Area regional champ Meera Suresh suggested, ” Just enjoy the moment, make new friends.”
1984 national champion Dan Greenblatt echoed the sentiment.
“Have fun, enjoy it, and even if you don’t make it to the top, you’re still one of the best spellers in the country,” said Greenblatt.
Rutvik says he will BEE ready for anything.
“I really want to win because I’ve been working for it since kindergarten, but I’m prepared to accept it if I don’t,” he said.