“I'm planning on coming back next year, though,” he said.
Mandanas was the runner-up in the 2012 state bee, and he placed first in his regional spelling bee earlier this year.
This year the competition was especially intense, going into 26 rounds, nearly five hours, as compared to last year's 14 rounds.
The students successfully rattled off spellings of words like “Weissnichtwo,” “gnathonic” and “roodebok” — and those were just in the preliminary rounds.
For anyone wondering, those words are a term for imaginary place, an insulting word, toadying, and a species of African antelope.
Tensions were high as the rounds grew increasingly difficult.
Still, there were some humorous moments.
When spelling the word “synchronous,” Calvin Tolbert, of Casady School in Oklahoma City, gave the first eight letters and shouted, “OU!” to the delight of Sooner fans in the audience, before finishing the word.
Tolbert was one of eight contestants remaining by the 16th round but misspelled “pickelhaube,” a type of helmet worn by German soldiers in the 19th century.