Arlington eighth-grader finishes second at Scripps National Spelling Bee

Charlotte Walsh, who is from Arlington, was one of 11 spellers to reach Thursday’s finals of the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee. (E. M. Pio Roda / Scripps National Spelling Bee)

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Arlington eighth-grader Charlotte Walsh was the runner-up in the 95th Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Walsh, 14, from Compass Homeschool Enrichment, survived 13 rounds of spelling and word definitions before being tripped up by “daviely” in the 14th round of the finals Thursday night. She spelled the word “daevillick.”

Dev Shah of Largo, Fla., then correctly spelled “psammophile” in the championship round to win the bee and a $50,000 first prize.

Walsh was the only speller from Virginia and one of only 11 spellers to survive the first eight rounds of competition to reach the finals of the event, which was held at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. The finals were broadcast live on the ION network. The event began Tuesday with 231 spellers participating.

Walsh was in her third national spelling bee but at age 14 is no longer eligible to compete after this year. She tied for 51st in 2019 and tied for 32nd last year. She qualified for the national bee by winning the Fairfax County bee, sponsored by the Fairfax County Council PTA.

In the first five rounds, Walsh correctly spelled “rescissible,” “cleric” and “gargoyle” and defined “vainglorious” and “oxymoron” to reach the Wednesday evening semifinals.  In the sixth round, she correctly spelled “anilox” and in the seventh round — a word-meaning round — provided the correct definition for “nocturne.”  After that round, only 20 spellers were left, and Walsh correctly spelled “sorge” to reach the finals.

In the finals Thursday night, Walsh correctly spelled “gazabo,” “Jhangar,” “collembolous” and “akuammine” and provided the correct definition of “omphaloskepsis” (gazing at your navel) before missing “daviely.”

One other Northern Virginia speller, Oviya Amalraj, a sixth-grader at J. Michael Lunsford Middle School in Loudoun County, also was among the 56 semifinalists. Amalraj correctly spelled “galatea,” “Mainer” and “lancinating” and defined “adieu” and “craggy” in her first rounds.

However, in the sixth round Wednesday evening, Amalraj misspelled “lucullite” as “luculite.” She finished in a tie for 22nd place.

Meanwhile, one of the national bee’s youngest spellers, Haymarket’s Siya Sampath, 9, correctly spelled “rucinate” in Wednesday morning’s fourth round. However, in the fifth round – a word meaning round – she incorrectly defined “nonplussed.”  She chose “neglected” from among the three options instead of the correct answer, “perplexed.” 

On Tuesday, Sampath, who attends J.W. Alvey Elementary School, correctly spelled “aegrotat” and “telemark” and provided the correct definition of “legionnaire” to reach the quarterfinals. 

Sampath, one of only four 9-year-olds competing, finished in a tie for 57th place.

Sampath earned the right to participate in the national bee by winning the Prince William Regional Spelling Bee in March. The regional bee is sponsored by InsideNoVa/Prince William and the Bel-Air Woman’s Club.

The other Northern Virginia speller eliminated in Wednesday’s quarterfinals was Luke DiMaso, an eighth-grader at St. William of York Catholic School in Stafford County. DiMaso had advanced to the quarterfinals by correctly spelling “portugais” and “asymptomatic” and defining “vanquish.” However, in the fourth round he misspelled “hoyle” as “hoile” and finished tied for 74th place.

Ruby Kadera, an eighth-grader at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington County advanced to the third round on Tuesday by correctly spelling “sous vide” and defining “sacrosanct.” However, she misspelled “foreseeable” as “forseeable” in that round and finished tied for 122nd place.

All the spellers advanced to the national bee by winning local or regional spelling bees. The contest is open to students through the eighth grade. 

Editor’s note: This report has been updated to reflect that Walsh said she is from Arlington.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner and republished with permission. Sign up for’s free email subscription today.


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