Central Texas spelling whiz reaches finals of Scripps National Spelling Bee

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 12:12 PM CDT
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HEWITT, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas spelling whiz punched his ticket to the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will be held July 8 and air on ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney Resort.

Earlier this month, a webcam captured the jaw-dropping reaction of Vihaan Sibal, 12, who admits he “was in shock for a little bit” after he spelled the word neurasthenia correctly to advance to the semi-finals.

On Sunday, Sibal qualified for the final round after spelling niton in the semifinal round, virtually, from his home in Central Texas.

It’s the third time he’s made it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but the first time he’s made it this far.

“I knew if I spelled it right, I’d be headed to the national finals and when I spelled that word right, it was probably the happiest I’ve ever felt in my life,” Vihaan said. “I felt it right then.”

Vihaan, an incoming seventh grader at Midway Middle School in Hewitt, Texas, started out spelling the word fascet, which is a wire basket on the end of a rod used to carry things.

“It turned out to be a homonym, so I knew it wasn’t facet which is another word. Also, there was no language of origin so all my studying up to this point was probably pointless, but I tried to figure it out and gave it a guess and was right,” Vihaan said.

His second word was vivarium, in which he had to choose the correct definition.

He lastly had to spell niton in order to advance.

“It was a pretty simple word, but I had to not overcomplicate it,” Vihaan said.

Four of the 11 finalists are from Texas.

Vihaan’s family will be traveling with him to Florida for the in-person event.

The finals will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. Central on ESPN 2.

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