A Seattle-area teen placed fourth in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday.

Saharsh Kesav Vuppala, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Tacoma’s Annie Wright Middle School, was one of 13 spellers who made the competition’s final round.

Saharsh started the finals strong, correctly spelling “Clitocybe”: a genus of white-spored agarics. He was one of eight spellers to advance from the eighth round.

During the next round, spellers were asked to choose a definition, an example of a word given without the definition, or a synonym.

Saharsh was asked “What is an ‘encomium’?” He correctly answered, “a formal expression of warm or high praise,” allowing him to move forward with three other spellers.

During the 10th round, Vuppala misspelled “phenocoll”: an antipyretic and analgesic drug. He spelled the word “P-H-E-N-O-C-O-L,” finishing in fourth place.


Saharsh previously competed in 2019 and tied for 51st place.

He loves playing badminton and tennis and likes to read mystery and thriller books, according to the bee’s website.

Saharsh’s favorite pastime is quizzing his fraternal twin sister, Deetya Sai Vuppala, about interesting words. Deetya, who attends Tacoma’s Seabury Middle School, also competed in this year’s spelling bee, tying for 23rd place.

A third Seattle-area competitor, 14-year-old Redmond Middle School eighth grader Sirjana Kaur, tied for 49th place.

The teens were among a field of 234 spellers who competed in National Harbor, Maryland, as part of the first fully in-person bee since 2019.