It was oh so close for Pranav Sivakumar of Tower Lakes.
The 13-year-old 8th grader at Barrington Middle School finished second Thursday in the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee. Pranav was tripped up by "cyanophycean," the word for a blue-green alga.
Champion Arvind Mahankali from Bayside Hills, N.Y., correctly spelled "knaidel," the word for a small mass of leavened dough.
The field was whittled down from 42 semifinalists. Three other spellers from Illinois made the semifinals.
The spellers advanced based on a formula that combined their scores from a computerized spelling and vocabulary test with their performance onstage.
The vocabulary test was new. Some of the spellers liked it, some didn't, and many were in-between.
They praised the concept but wondered why they had only seven weeks to prepare.