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National spelling bee champ from San Antonio given warm welcome home at airport

The 14-year-old arrived back home on Tuesday night. And she was greeted by Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

SAN ANTONIO — It was a champion's welcome back to San Antonio for the spelling bee queen Harini Logan!

The San Antonio International Airport tweeted a video of the 14-year-old's arrival on Tuesday night. Mayor Ron Nirenberg was there to greet her too.

Harini was crowned the champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday. She spelled 22 words correctly in 90 seconds during the final spell-off lightning round.

She was one of the best-known spellers entering the bee, and a crowd favorite for her poise and positivity, wins more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.

She is the fifth Scripps champion to be coached by Grace Walters, a former speller, fellow Texan and student at Rice University who is considering bowing out of the coaching business. If so, she will depart on top.

The key moment came during the bee's much-debated multiple-choice vocabulary round, when Harini defined the word “pullulation” as the nesting of mating birds. Scripps said the correct answer was the swarming of bees.

But wait!

“We did a little sleuthing after you finished, which is what our job is, to make sure we’ve made the right decision,” head judge Mary Brooks said to Harini. “We (did) a little deep dive in that word and actually the answer you gave to that word is considered correct, so we’re going to reinstate you.”

From there, Harini breezed into the finals against Vikram Raju. They each spelled two words correctly. Then Scripps brought out the toughest words of the night.

Both misspelled. Then Vikram missed again and Harini got “sereh” right, putting her one word away from the title. The word was “drimys,” and she got it wrong.

Two more rounds, two more misspelled words by each, and Scripps brought out the podium and buzzer for the lightning round that all the finalists had practiced for in the mostly empty ballroom hours earlier.

Harini was faster and sharper throughout, and the judges' final tally confirmed her victory.

She attends the Montessori School of San Antonio. We caught up with her in August of 2021 on Kids who Make San Antonio Great, a KENS 5 original series. Watch that here.

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