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Local Student Finishes Second in Spelling Bee

Faizan Zaki finished second in spelling bee | Image by Scripps National Spelling Bee/Flickr
Faizan Zaki finished second in spelling bee | Image by Scripps National Spelling Bee/Flickr

A local middle schooler from Allen recorded his best showing yet — second place — at a national spelling competition Thursday night.

The 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a spectacular showdown between two 12-year-olds. North Texas’ own Faizan Zaki and Bruhat Soma of Florida took turns spelling out words from the same list in a lightning round lasting just 90 seconds.

Ultimately, Soma took the crown by spelling 29 words correctly versus Zaki’s 20.

“That’s still a major accomplishment, especially considering I got 21st last year,” Zaki later said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I’m just really happy. I am a little sad, but I am happy for Bruhat.”

Scripps highlighted Zaki’s “infectious enthusiasm” and “unmatched sportsmanship” in a post on X.

This is the second year in a row that a contestant from Florida took home the grand prize. Dev Shah was crowned champion in 2023 after correctly spelling psammophile, as covered previously in The Dallas Express.

Just eight contestants out of a field of 245 made it to the finals, which were held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.

They were asked to spell and define uncommon words ranging from oosorption to selvagee.

Although Zaki, who is a student at Plano ISD’s Rice Middle School and sponsored by the Dallas Sports Commission, will not be returning to Texas with the first-place trophy and a $50,000 cash prize this time around, he will surely have considerable fanfare, and the $25,000 cash prize for second place is not too shabby, either.

“Plano ISD is bursting with pride for you, Faizan! Your hard work and perseverance are truly inspiring,” his school district wrote on X.

Dallas Sports Commission also celebrated Zaki’s performance and retweeted Fox 4 KDFW reporter Steven Dial’s efforts to get Zaki — a Kyrie Irving fan — a Dallas Mavericks jersey.

With luck, this initiative will pay off in time for the Mavericks’ appearance in the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.

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