You R-O-C-K, Ansun Sujoe.
Dear Ansun Sujoe,
How's it going, dude!?!?
Hopefully, by now, you've managed to shake off whatever partying you did last night and gotten yourself out of bed. But, listen, if you haven't? We totally understand. After your epic run toward becoming the 2014 co-champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee last night, you deserve to have as much fun as you can stand for the next couple of W-E-E-K-S.
After the rough go of it we've had around these parts the past few weeks, we here in North Texas certainly needed a bit of a pick-me-up. And we have to say: You came through big time on that front.
In just your second appearance at the national bee — a competition in which many of your rivals were appearing for the fourth or even fifth time — you outlasted everyone but Sriram Hathwar, with whom you were declared co-champion after outlasting the 25-word championship word list.
More impressive is that you didn't even make the semi-finals last year — you missed out by a single point then — and yet, this year, you went toe-to-toe with a kid that even ESPN's announcers were calling the overwhelming favorite.
And best of all? You didn't blink. If anything, you spelled with flair in last night's finals, knocking out seemingly impossible words such as augenphilologie — a word so obscure that even Google Docs redline it for being misspelled — and paixtle while outfitted in a slick black vest and red bowtie. You were so smooth, in fact, that you even received a congratulatory tweet from President Obama.
Not bad for a 13-year-old, Ansun! Nope. Not bad at all.
Even more slick was the way you never once seemed overwhelmed by the moment. Judging from what we saw on TV at least, your parents and awesome little sister certainly felt nervous for you. And we don't blame them at all. Honestly, we can't even begin to imagine putting ourselves through that lexical wringer like you did. Hell, we lost our third grade spelling bee when we left out the first “r” in “library.” But you, Mr. Sujoe? You made your hometown of Fort Worth — and all of North Texas, really — look good.
And once we learned a little bit more about your background, all the ice water that flows through your veins started to make a lot more sense. Aside from being a lights-out speller, you're also a talented musician — one who reportedly has perfect pitch. If this whole spelling thing doesn't work out for you long term, it seems you might have quite the future in the rough and tumble world of classical music. And you know what's cool about that?It doesn't come with ESPN breathlessly analyzing your every move, wondering if you've studied enough French to spell feuilleton correctly.
You're also wise beyond your years, which makes us feel so much better about your generation. For instance, we hear you're planning to save your $30,000 in prize money for college? That's a perfectly responsible thing to do, Ansun. In retrospect, we wish we'd had that kind of foresight ourselves as student loan debts ain't no joke.
Still, can we make one suggestion? Take just a little of that money you won and buy yourself something nice. If anyone deserves a little frivolous spending, it's you.
Besides, you've still got a year of eligibility left at the bee. You'll be able to cover whatever expenses you build up with next year's prize money.
With much respect,
Stephen Young and the rest of the Central Track staff.