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Carmel middle schooler returning to Scripps National Spelling Bee

riya koya.png
Posted at 11:00 PM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 17:42:40-04

CARMEL — Seven Hoosier students have won their regional competitions and are now heading to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

For Carmel middle schooler Riya Koya, this will be her second time on the national stage.

"I remember there was a lot of parties and a lot of fun activities," Koya said. "It's really cool how Scripps keeps us busy throughout our week."

In 2019, Koya tied for 51st place.

"I hope she does better than that, but spelling bees, there's an aspect of luck in it so if she gets a tough word or something early who knows," Koya's dad Afsal said. "I'm hoping for the best, I'm hoping she's well prepared and can meet the challenges going along."

After early rounds on Tuesday, Koya is the only speller out of four from Central Indiana left in the competition. Two other Hoosiers from the Fort Wayne area also made it through.

Koya spelled "deathin," a poisonous plant related to the water hemlock, and "aquarelle," a style of painting using thin, typically transparent watercolors. She also had to provide the meaning or definition of altercation.

This is Koya's final year of eligibility, and she reached her goal of making it to semifinals, which begin Wednesday.

"I really just want to do my best and just get the most out of the experience and know that it's my last time," she said. "I want to have a lot of fun and try my best."

The competition is fully back in person this year at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just outside of Washington D.C. The preliminaries are on May 31.

More than 230 students are competing in the bee, and including Koya, 45 of them will be repeat competitors.

This year, for the first time in bee history, the semifinals and finals rounds will be aired exclusively on ION and Bounce, which are free Scripps TV stations.