WASHINGTON — Shiva Vignesh Rajagopal, a 14-year-old from Fallon who was the second member of his family to represent Nevada in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, survived into the fourth round on Wednesday before he was eliminated.
Shiva misspelled “quoddy,” which is an open sloop-rigged sailboat once used for fishing along the coast of Maine.
“I might have heard of it once, but I’ve forgotten,” said Shiva, an eighth-grader at Churchill County Junior High School.
Of the 286 contestants, Shiva, who was sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, finished among the 60 top spellers. The surviving contestants return for the semifinals and finals today.
“I’m really proud that I’ve come this far,” Shiva said.
After correctly answering 18 of 25 spelling questions on a written test, he was right with an oral spelling of “ultraviolet” in the second round.
In the third round, the Nevadan correctly spelled “wilco,” a term used in radio communications to indicate agreement.
Shiva became the first Nevada contestant in three years to answer enough questions correctly on the written test to advance.
“I guessed on a ton of them, so when they gave us the answer key, I’m like, ‘Holy cow, I got that right?’ ” Shiva said.
When the quarterfinalists were announced in random order, Shiva’s number was the third called. The feeling, he said, was “totally awesome.”
Three years ago, the third number called belonged to Shiva’s sister, Shankari, who was the most recent Nevadan to pass the written test.
Shankari advanced to the fifth round and an appearance on ESPN as one of the bee’s final 37 contestants.
To wish her brother luck, Shankari — now a 16-year-old junior at Churchill County High School — gave her brother a glittering pin that she wore at all of her spelling bees. Shiva kept the pin in his pocket during Wednesday’s competition.
Despite his sister’s success at the 2004 Spelling Bee, Shiva said he did not feel pressured.
“I just feel like she’s herself and I’m myself,” he said.
Shankari and her mother, Karpagam, who is a librarian, and her father, Raj Krishnamoorthy, who is an environmental engineer, attended the bee Wednesday.
Shiva said he hopes to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Caltech and pursue a career in computers.
“It sort of goes against all this spelling stuff, but I love computers,” Shiva said.