Culver City student ties for 7th in National Spelling Bee

Cooper Komatsu, 13, from Culver City Middle School.
Cooper Komatsu, 13, from Culver City Middle School.
Mark Bowen/Scripps National Spelling Bee

A student from Culver City Middle School advanced through the early rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals and made it to Thursday night’s main event, but he had his first misspelling in round 9 of the finals, misspelling the word "illicium." 

Cooper Komatsu, 13, (also Speller No. 13) tied for seventh place while competing with nine other finalists, putting him ahead of his 2015 performance where he placed 11th. Six of the finalists moved on to round 10.


In four rounds early Thursday, Cooper correctly spelled “rerebrace,” “cacomixl,” “buccal” and “glaucothoe.” (As my father used to tell me, to my endless annoyance, if you want to know what the words mean, look them up — the contest’s official dictionary is the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, and not the abridged version.)

Cooper's grandfather, Robert Rosenberg, competed in 1955. The contest was broadcast by ESPN.

The contest eventually ended in a tie for the third year in a row, despite contest organizers changing the rules to avoid a draw. Winners were 11-year-old Nihar Janga from Austin, Texas — the youngest-ever winner of the contest — and 13-year-old Jairam Hathwar from Painted Post, New York, according to the Associated Press. 

For the final battle at the bee, instead of a pre-set list of 25 "championship words," there were 25 rounds, AP said. Both spelled 24 words before the duel was declared a tie. 

Janga and Hathwar high-fived after their words, and hugged at the end of the spelling bee. They both will receive $45,000 in cash and prizes. 

You can test your own word power by taking the Scripps sample test online.

This story has been updated.