They have to put a picture of Harini Logan next to the word “bouncing” in the dictionary. Or maybe “resilient”.
The eighth-grader from San Antonio, Texas, won the 2022 Scripps Spelling Bee on Thursday night, and her victory was both deserving and full of drama.
She was dropped from the competition during the vocabulary round earlier in the week, before being reinstated and making her way to the finals. And then she had to face fellow runner-up Vikram Raju, 12, in a first-ever whirlwind tiebreaker where both contestants misspelled a few difficult words (including “drimys,” a genus of Australian shrubbery).
But 14-year-old Logan emerged victorious after correctly spelling ‘water hen’ (a female red grouse), which moved her ahead of Raju.
“I think it would have been very easy for me to be deterred, to be like, ‘Wow, why do I miss him so much?'” Harini told The Associated Press afterwards. “Really just focused on the next word and knowing that I’m still here, I think that was just a big relief for me.”
So for those who fell in love with Logan, here’s what you need to know about the 2022 Scripps Spelling Bee champion.
Harini Logan has already participated in the Scripps National Spelling Bee three times.
This wasn’t Logan’s first rodeo. She previously competed at Scripps in 2018, when she tied for 323rd place. She climbed the ranks quite a bit the following year, tied for 30th in 2019, and tied for 31st last year. (The 2020 contest has been canceled due to the pandemic.)
Looks like the fourth time was the charm.
Harini Logan is coached by a spelling legend.
Logan is the fifth Scripps champion coached by Grace Walters, a former speller and student at Rice University. Walters has been involved in spelling bees and the spelling community for over 11 years, and writes on her biography page that she first became interested in spelling when she was 7. years responds.
Logan was also helped by 2020 Scripps winner Navneeth Murali from New Jersey. And when Logan was first eliminated in the vocabulary round, Walters and Murali — along with Logan’s mother — rushed over to speak with the judges.
“Harini went to hell and came back with her spelling experiences,” her longtime trainer Grace Walters told the AP.
So why was Harini Logan briefly eliminated?
During the vocabulary round, Logan described “swarming” as the nesting of mating birds. But Scripps said the correct answer should be swarming bees. Logan’s supporters, including his mother and coach, have successfully argued that his definition is also correct.
Shortly thereafter, Chief Justice Mary Brooks reinstated Logan. “We did a little investigation after you finished, which is our job, to make sure we made the right decision,” she said. “We (did) dove into that word a bit and in fact the answer you gave to that word is considered correct, so we’ll reinstate you.”
Logan’s answer? “My heart stopped for a second,” she said.
She loves to read, but it’s not her favorite subject.
Logan’s biography on the Scripps National Spelling Bee website reveals that she is an “avid reader,” and it was her love of the written word that led her to participate in spelling bees. She is also passionate about creative writing and plans to publish a book while in high school. But her favorite subject in school is actually science.
So what’s Harini Logan going to do next?
Before writing the Great American Novel, Logan said she planned to celebrate her Scripps Spelling Bee journey by traveling with her family. And she’ll also be kicking back with her favorite hobbies, which include walking and playing with her four-month-old Cavapoo pup, Milo, and doing quizzes with her brother. Logan also has a musical ear; she plays the piano and she learns the ukulele on her own.