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San Diego 8th-grader eliminated from National Spelling Bee

SAN DIEGO — An eighth-grader from San Diego correctly spelled two words Wednesday in the second round of the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland, but was unable to make Thursday’s finals.

Yash Hande, who attends Pacific Trails Middle School in Carmel Valley, correctly spelled “Polynesian” and “demographic” on stage at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor. But he was eliminated by his score in a preliminary written spelling test that consisted of a dozen spelling words and 14 vocabulary words.

Of the 291 competitors who started, 50 advanced to Thursday’s rounds.

Yash qualified for the national bee by winning the San Diego County Spelling Bee on March 23. His final word was sphacelated, a verb meaning to become gangrenous.

Yash is interested in math and science, plays soccer and cricket, swims and participates in the martial art taekwondo.

The bee is limited to students in eighth grade or below, with contestants ranging in age from 6 to 15 years old.

The field consists of students who won locally sponsored bees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense schools in Europe.

Six foreign nations are also represented — the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.

The bee’s purpose is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives, organizers said.

The winner will receive $40,000 from Scripps, which owns television stations and newspapers; a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster; and $400 in reference works from Encyclopaedia Britannica and a three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium.

The winner will also get to travel to Hollywood to appear on the ABC late-night program “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and New York City to appear on the syndicated morning talk show “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”

San Diego County has produced two of California’s four national bee champions — Anurag Kashyap in 2005 and Snigdha Nandipati in 2012.