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Scripps National Spelling Bee crowns co-champions Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam

Posted at 10:06 PM, May 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-28 23:31:58-04

Co-champions, back to back.

For the second year in a row, the Scripps National Spelling Bee crowned two champions: Vanya Shivashankar, 13, from Olathe, Kansas and Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, from St. Louis.

Gokul, who got the last word, didn't hesitate. It was "nunatak."

"While there were only two winners, I would say everyone is a champion," he said.

Rich Boehne, CEO of the E.W. Scripps Company, presented the trophy to both spellers.

"Two years in a row — what worries me is maybe the kids are just getting smarter and smarter," Boehne said, in an interview. "Their command of the language and ability to defeat the language is beyond what we could imagine."

The Bee championship finals rapidly boiled down to two experienced spellers who were both in their last year of eligibility.

There weren't enough words on the list to separate them. The championship list contains 25, with many drawing gasps. Vanya's last word was "scherenschnitte."

This was Vanya's fifth and final chance to win. She is in eighth grade at California Trail Middle School. Her sister Kavya is the 2009 champion.

Gokul won on his third try. He finished third last year behind 2014 co-champions Ansun Sujue and Sriram Hathwar. He is in eighth grade at Parkway West Middle School in Chesterfield, Missouri.

The co-champions each receive more than $38,600 in cash prizes.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk.