Six-year-old Akash Vukoti has won our hearts — if not the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
He was the youngest of the 285 contenders in this year's competition, and even though he misspelled "bacteriolytic" in Round 3, he will not be forgotten.
His hometown paper, the San Angelo Standard-Times in Texas, says Akash has been competing for four years — as in, he started when he was 2. He can also read and write fluently in Telugu and Hindi, according to his profile on the spelling bee website. Reporter Chris Weller of Tech Insider described a Skype interview with Akash this way in March:
"In between fits of throwing himself into the sofa and covering the lens of his iPad (much to his father's resistance), he delivered strings of complex sentences with minimal effort. He was also immensely polite, repeatedly calling me 'Mr. Weller' even after I told him 'Chris' was just fine."
Weller said Akash, who is home-schooled, studies words for at least an hour a day. At the time, Akash insisted he was "not nervous at all" to be in the national spelling competition.
He didn't go all the way this time, but we've got our eye on him for next year.
In Akash's absence, there are still plenty of young geniuses to root for in Thursday's semifinals and finals. The finals will be broadcast on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET and live-tweeted here.