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Central Texas student advances to semifinals of Scripps National Spelling Bee

Vihaan Sibal
Posted at 10:22 PM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 19:57:00-04

WACO, Texas — A Midway ISD student is one of 30 spellers to advance to the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Vihaan Sibal -- who just completed sixth grade at River Valley Intermediate -- spelled "neurasthenia" in the sixth round on Tuesday to advance.

Neurasthenia is an ill-defined medical condition characterized by lassitude, fatigue, headache, and irritability, associated chiefly with emotional disturbance.

Sibal had never heard the word before this spelling bee but he knew the right questions to ask, and figured it out.

"A lot of it is asking the right questions so that's part of speech, definition any alternate pronunciations," Sibal said.

This spelling doesn't give you a list of words to study, in fact for the semi-finals you could be given any word in the dictionary. To prepare Sibal is spending two hours a day studying Latin, new Latin, Greek and French root words.

"You have to know those and then it makes it a lot easier to guess the spelling because probably every word from now on is going to be a word I've never seen before so that's going to help me a lot," Sibal said.

His dad, Aman Sibal is amazed to see how well his son can spell words even he didn't know existed.

"I had never even heard of them and he surprises us every time," Aman Sibal said.

Sibal says it's rewarding to spell a word right, competitive by nature he was in the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee but tied for 42nd. So when the time to compete again came, he knew he would make it farther.

The first three segments of the Bee were held virtually due to the pandemic. It began June 12 with 209 spellers.

The semifinals are set for Sunday, June 27, at 6 pm on ESPN 2.

The top 10 to 12 spellers will then advance to the finals that will be held in person at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando on July 8.