Eighteen rounds into the state spelling bee, Dakota Jones emerged victorious after spelling “dandiacal,” which describes a man overly concerned with his appearance.
The 13-year-old does not consider himself to be a “dandy,” the root word for dandiacal, and said he was lucky to win.
“I guessed,” he said. “I spelled it like I thought it sounded.”
The triumph was especially satisfying because he placed second last year after misspelling “defalcator,” which is someone who embezzles or is bad with money.
Dakota said he spelled defalcator with a “ph” instead of an “f.”
Thirty-three middle school students from across the state competed Saturday in the Nevada State Spelling Bee, which was sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and held at Faith Lutheran Junior/Senior High School.
Competition was so strong that Dakota went six rounds with the runner-up, Vandana Ravikumar, a seventh-grader from Bethlehem Lutheran School in Carson City.
She misspelled “sequitur,” and Dakota went on to seal the victory.
“I just wanted it to end,” he said. “I was tired of the back and forth.”
Vandana agreed that the last few rounds were “tiring” and said she was not disappointed about losing. She placed fifth in last year’s state spelling bee.
“I’m just glad I made it so far,” she said.
Vandana said she is an avid reader who likes stories about school, particularly novels by Judy Blume.
Her father, Ravikumar Abraham, and her mother, Sneha Ravikumar, both work for the state of Nevada.
Dakota, a seventh-grader at Hyde Park Middle School, 900 Hinson St., near Charleston Boulevard, is the son of Mike and Jamie Jones in Las Vegas. His father is an optometrist.
Her son “is very gifted,” Jamie Jones said. “He’s always reading and researching on the computer.”
Dakota Jones will be competing in the Nevada Math Counts competition this weekend in Reno.
He said that because he is interested in astronomy, he wants to visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., when he is there to represent Nevada in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.
“That would be a cool thing to do,” he said.
Contact reporter James Haug at email@example.com or 702-374-7917.