The final word of the Spelling Bee was...

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The final word of the Spelling Bee was...

From Comcast SportsNet
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) -- Snigdha Nandipati heard a few words she didn't know during the National Spelling Bee, but never when she stepped to the microphone. Calm and collected throughout, the 14-year-old from San Diego spelled "guetapens," a French-derived word that means ambush, snare or trap, to win the 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night. She beat out eight other finalists in the nerve-wracking, brain-busting competition. After she spelled the word, she looked from side to side, as if unsure her accomplishment was real, and, oddly, she was not immediately announced as the winner. Applause built slowly, and a few pieces of confetti trickled out before showering her. Then her 10-year-old brother ran on stage and embraced her, and she beamed. "I knew it. I'd seen it before," Nandipati said of the winning word. "I just wanted to ask everything I could before I started spelling." A coin collector and Sherlock Holmes fan, Nandipati aspires to become a physician or neurosurgeon. She also plays violin and is fluent in Telugu, a language spoken in southeastern India. A semifinalist last year, Nandipati became the fifth consecutive Indian-American winner and 10th in the last 14 years, a run that began in 1999 when Nupur Lala won and was later featured in the documentary "Spellbound." Wearing a white polo shirt with a gold necklace peeking out of the collar, the bespectacled, braces-wearing teen never showed much emotion while spelling, working her way meticulously through each word. Only a few of the words given to other spellers were unfamiliar to her, she said. Her brother and parents joined her onstage after the victory, along with her maternal grandparents, who traveled from Hyderabad, India, to watch her. At one point as she held the trophy aloft, her brother, Sujan, pushed the corners of her mouth apart to broaden her smile. Her father, Krishnarao, said Snigdha first showed an interest in spelling as early as age 4. As she rode in the car, he would call out the words he saw on billboards and she would spell them. In the run-up to the bee, Nandipanti studied 6 to 10 hours a day on weekdays and 10-12 hours on weekends -- a regimen that she'll need to maintain to get through medical school, her father said. "She says this is harder than being a neurosurgeon -- maybe," said her mother, Madhavi. Stuti Mishra of West Melbourne, Fla., finished second after misspelling "schwarmerei" -- which means excessive, unbridled enthusiasm. While many spellers pretend to write words with their fingers, the 14-year-old Mishra had an unusual routine -- she mimed typing them on a keyboard. Nandipanti and Mishra frequently high-fived each other after spelling words correctly during the marathon competition. Coming in third for the second consecutive year was Arvind Mahankali of Bayside Hills, N.Y. At 12, the seventh-grader was the youngest of the nine finalists. He has one more year of eligibility remaining, and he pledged to return. "I got eliminated both times by German words," Mahankali said. "I know what I have to study." Nandipati's prize haul includes 30,000 in cash, a trophy, a 2,500 savings bond, a 5,000 scholarship, 2,600 in reference works from the Encyclopedia Britannica and an online language course. The week began with 278 spellers, including the youngest in the history of the competition -- 6-year-old Lori Anne Madison of Lake Ridge, Va. The field was cut to 50 semifinalists after a computer test and two preliminary rounds, and Lori Anne was two misspelled words away from a semifinal berth. The tiny, blue-eyed prodigy said she'd be back next year. The highest-placing international speller was Gifton Wright of Spanish Town, Jamaica, who tied for fourth. This week, Scripps announced tentative plans for a world spelling bee with teams of spellers from dozens of countries. Once that gets off the ground, the National Spelling Bee would be closed to international participants. Also tied for fourth were Nicholas Rushlow of Pickerington, Ohio, and Lena Greenberg of Philadelphia. The excitable Greenberg, a crowd favorite who ran delightedly back to her chair after each correct word, pressed her hands to her face and exclaimed, "Oh! Oh!" when she was eliminated. Rushlow was making his fifth and final appearance in the bee, and this was his best showing. He got three words he didn't know -- one in the semifinals and two in the finals -- and managed to spell two of them correctly before the third one, "vetiver," tripped him up. While he was satisfied with his performance, he's sad that his run is over. "I'm a has-been now," Rushlow said.

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Ricky Jean-Francois signs with the Packers, per report

Ricky Jean-Francois signs with the Packers, per report

Before last season with the Redskins, Ricky Jean-Francois had made the playoffs five consecutive times, doing so twice with San Francisco, twice with Indianapolis and then once with Washington.

Now, the veteran — who was released by the 'Skins on March 15 — has given himself a strong chance of getting back to the postseason again in 2017 by reportedly signing with the Packers on Thursday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that Jean-Francois and Green Bay agreed to a one-year, $3-million contract.

MORE REDSKINS: DESEAN JACKSON ON WHY HE CHOSE TAMPA BAY

The 30-year-old lineman visited with the Bears and Seahawks before choosing to sign with Green Bay. Former Redskin Chris Baker, now in Tampa Bay, had also attempted to recruit Jean-Francois on Twitter to join him with the Bucs.

By cutting Jean-Francois last week, Washington will save $3 million toward their 2017 salary cap. Some have also speculated whether his criticism of the franchise was a factor in the transaction.

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Report: Hawks All-Star Paul Millsap to opt out of contract and test free agency

Report: Hawks All-Star Paul Millsap to opt out of contract and test free agency

Atlanta Hawks All-Star power forward Paul Millsap will opt out of his contract following this season to test free agency, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who is currently working as an NBA sideline reporter and is apparently now breaking NBA news as well.

Millsap’s decision is not a surprise, of course. He has an opt-out clause in his contract and it’s pretty rare that players do not exercise those. That is even more obvious with the current salary cap state and the type of money being thrown around in free agency. At 32, Millsap can cash in with a massive contract before his career begins to wind down.

Millsap is expected to be one of the most sought after players in an absolutely loaded free agent class. There are many other All-Stars who could hit the open market like Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

Millsap, though, may be one of the best who is actually attainable. All four of those players could very well return to their current teams. If that was the case, Millsap would be one of the best free agents along with Kyle Lowry and Gordon Hayward. 

Either way, Millsap will represent a solid option for a team looking to improve their frontcourt. He’s a four-time All-Star and a former All-Defensive team selection. This year he’s averaging a career-high 18.1 points to go along with 7.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists. 

The question is which team will pay a ton of money for big man in his 30s, even though his game would seem to age well. His next move also bears watching for Wizards fans, as the Hawks are a current Eastern Conference playoff team and have the second-best record in the Southeast Division.

[RELATED: Oubre, Mahinmi help Wizards snap out of defensive funk]