Spell Palatschinken … Delaware Spelling Champion Snags Top 20 Honors in National Bee

A Delaware eighth grader is officially one of the top 20 spellers in the country.

Sahil Langote, a student at P.S. DuPont Middle School, came in 17th place, besting over 500 of the nation’s top middle school Spelling Bee champs who competed in the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Langote barely missed making the final round – by one letter – ending just shy of the top 15 who were Prime Time Finalists last night on ESPN.

The Bee’s championship round took place Friday in Washington, D.C.


The Wilmington student, who will enroll at Charter School of Wilmington in the fall, was invited to the national bee for the third time in three years, after winning the statewide bee on March 16th.

“We couldn’t even begin to count the number of hours Sahil has devoted to studying spelling words over the last three years”

Langote has been preparing for the national competition for the past three years. He typically devoted six hours per day on weekdays, and fifteen hours per day on weekends, studying the Miriam Webster Dictionary and spellings books like “How to Spell Like a Champ” and “Words of Wisdom.”

Shahil’s father Sunil Langote said his son often stayed up past midnight and arose before dawn to study. “I think this is the first time in three years I am seeing them (Sahil and his mother) relaxed,” Sunil said. “Today was the first time I saw both of them sleeping until 8 a.m.”

His last correctly spelled word in this year’s competition was zaguan. It was the word palatschinken that ultimately spelled defeat for Suhil, who made it to the eighth round.

Palatschinken is the name of an eastern European crêpe-like dish, has seven different language roots. Langote he had seen the word before but said he didn’t recognize that German was the predominant root, causing him to forget the “S.”

The eighth round was a virtual land mine for several of the nation’s top spellers. The seasoned competitor said the eighth round was intended to eliminate ten or so competitors so that only 15 would advance as finalists. “The words were quite difficult. The kids all thought the words were too hard for that round,” Sahil said. “I remember just being on stage after that, and all of the words for the Prime Time Finalists were much easier.”

This year, the National Spelling Bee had an exceptional result, in that eight students were still standing at the end of the 20-round competition. All eight were awarded “gold winners” and will share the national prize.

Because of the strength of the participants, this year’s Bee was also the longest ever – concluding at 12:30 am – one and a half hours after the ESPN competition typically concludes.

Sahil Langote wins special mentorship award

Unbeknownst to Sahil or his parents, the Scripps Spelling Bee organization dispatched crews of floaters to anonymously observe the students throughout the competition. They were looking for kids who took time to help others, and it seems Sahil stood out from the rest. He found out just yesterday that he earned a special “NewBee Mentor Award.”

Incredibly, after months of sleep-deprived nights, Langote says he’s up for more. “I’m not happy it’s over,” he said.

While he can no longer compete in the Scripps contest, Langote intends to gear up for the North South Foundation’s (NSF) National Bee in August. The Foundation is a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide scholarships to disadvantaged Indian children by raising funds through academic competitions in the United States. Langote will also participate in the NSF Vocabulary Bee for the first time, he said.

Sahil tied for 323rd place at the Scripps National Spelling Bee 2017 and 41st in 2018. So his 17th place finish this year is remarkable.

“We are extremely, extremely happy,” Sunil said of his son’s success. His mother is equally as satisfied. “Seventeenth is a very, very high position, and we could not be more proud of Sahil for going that far in the competition,” said Rupali Langote.

Sahil said his favorite part of spelling is learning new words — particularly medical ones. He plans to study neuroscience and medicine once he graduates from Charter.

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About the Contributor

Ellie Watson

Ellie Watson

Ellie Watson is a sophomore at the University of Richmond, majoring in journalism. She writes for her school paper, The Collegian, in addition to being a coordinator for her school’s chapter of Camp Kesem.