Two eighth-graders emerged as co-champions in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday, beating out 283 other students for the title.
Vanya Shivashankar, of Kansas, and Gokul Venkatachalam, of Missouri, were declared the winners after correctly spelling every word judges threw at the middle-schoolers.
It was the second year in a row that the national competition ended in a tie. Both the students have competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee for several years, finally grabbing the title as eighth-graders on Thursday.
This year, she hung on during the final round by spelling out words that included "myrmotherine," "hippocrepiform," and "bruxellois."
Her family was in the audience, cheering her on and trying to hold on as it came down to the final two in a heart-stopping face-off.
Vanya was the contender in this year's spelling bee to have attended the most competitions, with a total of five under her belt.
Vanya is the second person in her family to win a Scripps National Spelling Bee. Her sister, Kavya Shivashankar, won the competition in 2009.
Their dad came prepared for victory.
Vanya hung on during the final round by spelling out words that included "myrmotherine," "hippocrepiform," and "bruxellois."
But it was "scherenschnitte" that got her the 2015 title, a word with German origins that describes the art of paper-cut design.
Vanya took her time with the final word, asking for the origin, and pronunciations.
An eighth-grader from California Trail Middle School in Olathe, Kansas, Vanya carefully spelled out the words with her finger on the palm of her left hand first, before picking apart each letter.
She dedicated her win to her grandmother, who died in 2013.
"This is a dream come true," Vanya said after the win. "I can't believe I'm up here."
It was Gokul, though, who had to shoulder the pressure of getting the last word of the night.
The eighth-grader from Parkway West Middle School in Cheserfield, Missouri, took his time spelling out words like "cypseline" and "filicite," as it came down to the final two.
But Gokul — who in his spelling bee profile said he tackles his competition like his idol, LeBron James — hit the last word without skipping a beat.
"Nunatak, N-U-N-A-T-A-K, nunatak," he quickly rattled off.
A total of 285 teens competed this year, including 136 boys and 146 girls, according to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Most of them — 118 — were eighth-graders.