Co-champs emerge from Houston spelling bee to compete nationally


HOUSTON – After competing in 14 rounds with 53 total spellers from 42 Texas counties, Shourav Dasari, a Spring resident and seventh-grader at McCullough Jr. High in Conroe ISD, and Nihar Janga, an Austin resident and fifth-grader at River Ridge Elementary in Leander ISD, were awarded co-champion titles from the 2016 Houston Public Media Spelling Bee.

The two spellers will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee May 22-27 in Washington, D.C., with an all-expenses-paid trip to "Bee Week."

"Guaguanche" was the winning word for Shourav and "snotziekte" was the winning word for Nihar in the Houston bee, the nation’s second largest local spelling bee. The bee went on for more than four hours and was broadcast live.

"I’m excited and proud to represent Houston," Shourav said. "I hope I can do my best in Washington, D.C."

This is Shourav's second year competing at the Houston Public Media Spelling Bee. He tied for third place in 2014.

"I’m very proud of myself," Nihar said. "I learned a lot of new spellings and I learned that if I put my mind to it, work really hard and not get distracted, I can achieve success."

This is Nihar's second year at the bee. He came in third place in 2015.

This will be the first year that both compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Shourav will be speller No. 233 at the Scripps National Spelling Bee and Nihar No. 232. They will join hundreds of contestant spellers from across the country at the 89th national bee, aiming for the victory and prizes worth more than $30,000. The bee will broadcast live nationally on ESPN during "Bee Week."

Participating spellers in Houston included 25 girls and 28 boys ranging in age from 9 to 14 years old and grades third through eighth, representing 1,130 schools in Texas.

"We are so proud of all the students that competed in our spelling bee today – they’ve all worked so hard to get here," said Lisa Trapani Shumate, associate vice president and general manager of Houston Public Media. "It’s an honor to conduct and televise this highly competitive academic competition that showcases so many of their talents beyond vocabulary and grammar."