WASHINGTON — Syamantak Payra, a Friendswood seventh grader who attends Clear Creek school district’s Westbrook Intermediate School, was among 11 students to make the finals of the 86th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday. But it was New York eighth grader Arvind Mahankali who spelled tokonoma and knaidel correctly to win the competition.
During the nationally televised finals Thursday night, Payra stumbled on the word cipollino — describing a type of marble — and was the fifth competitor eliminated from the competition.
Payra, 12, in March was the winner of the Houston region’s spelling bee. He was competing in his first National Spelling Bee after winning the Clear Creek ISD spelling bee three years straight.
During the semifinal round, Payra correctly spelled hepatectomy and lallation and was among the high scorers on the first vocabulary test in the bee’s history.
Payra and the other finalists competed for more than $30,000 in prizes and a trophy.
Speller No. 242
Age, grade: 12, seventh grade
School: Clear Creek ISD’s Westbrook Intermediate School, Friendswood
Profile: Payra’s favorite things to do include building computers, reading, playing music, swimming and playing ping-pong. He also loves building with Legos and is a licensed amateur radio operator. Academically, he participates in many competitions, including science fairs and math club. He won a gold medal in the Physics/Astronomy division at his 2013 district science fair and placed third at 2013 Science and Engineering Fair of Houston. Payra also thrives in scientific and creative writing. He’s published more than 12 poems and essays in anthology collections and magazines. He also won second place in the Scientific Writing Contest at the 2013 Science and Engineering Fair of Houston.