By Ben Nuckols
Soft-spoken but brimming with confidence, Dev Shah asked precise questions about obscure Greek roots, rushed through his second-to-last word and rolled to the Scripps National Spelling Bee title Thursday night.
Dev, a 14-year-old from Largo, Florida, had his spelling career interrupted by the pandemic, then didn't make it out of his regional bee last year. He got through his highly competitive regional this year for his third and final try at the national title, and he ended up holding the trophy over his head as confetti fell.
His winning word was “psammophile,” a layup for a speller of his caliber.
“Psammo meaning sand, Greek?” he asked. “Phile, meaning love, Greek?”
He soaked up the moment by asking for the word to be used in a sentence, something he described a day earlier as a stalling tactic. Then he put his hands over his face as he was declared the winner.
Charlotte Walsh, a 14-year-old from Arlington, Virginia, was the runner-up.