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What a difference a letter makes.
Darvinash Chandra Mohan, an eighth-grader at Newton-Conover Middle School, came within one letter of winning the 58th Annual Charlotte Observer Spelling Bee on Monday.
With four spellers remaining, Chandra Mohan was the only speller to correctly spell his word. Spelling bee rules, however, required him to correctly spell another word to secure the championship.
Chandra Mohan misspelled "iridaceous," an adjective that describes a family of plants with swordlike leaves and showy flowers. He used an "i" in place of the "e."
The incorrect spelling allowed his three competitors back into the finals for a spell-off.
Olivia Jones, a seventh-grader at Charlotte Preparatory School, won the bee by correctly spelling "nimbed." She advances to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., from May 27-June 1.
Angeli Gupta, who represented Cabarrus County Independent Schools, finished second. Ashwin Subramaniam, of Union County Schools, finished third.
Chandra Mohan finished fourth following a lengthy third-place spell-off with Subramanium.
Twenty-eight students from 14 counties in the Charlotte region competed in the bee, including Catawba County Schools (CCS) representative Savannah Clay.
Clay, an eighth-grader at Mill Creek Middle School, was one of nine students who were eliminated in the opening rounds. She won the CCS spelling bee Jan. 5 by correctly spelling auditorium and controversy in the final round.
Hickory Public Schools speller Celeste Lane and St. Stephens Lutheran School's Taylor Warlick were also eliminated in opening rounds.
Chandra Mohan won the Newton-Conover City Schools bee Jan. 20 by correctly spelling tentativeness and philosophize in the final round.
He is a native of Malaysia and said he discovered he enjoyed spelling when he moved to the United States in fourth grade.