Cherry Hill girl among 8 co-champions in Scripps National Spelling Bee

You can call them the Elite 8.

Two New Jersey natives are among a talented group of students who are sharing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee title.

Each winner will receive his or her own trophy, along with the full winner's prize of $50,000 in cash.

The eight co-champions spelled the final 47 words correctly, going five consecutive, perfect rounds for 3.5 hours!

Among the winners: Christopher Serrao, a 13-year-old from Whitehouse Station, Hunterdon County which is located right across from Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Shruthika Padhy, 13, of Cherry Hill is also one of the Elite 8.

RELATED: The Action News team put our spelling skills to the test
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The Action News Morning Team holds its own Spelling Bee.



Back home, Padhy had a cheering squad from Rosa International Middle School glued to their TVs.

Teacher Kim Pennock described the tense moments.

"I was holding onto my son, and he was like 'let go of me,'" Pennock said.

Teacher Jennifer Aristone said, "I was like literally out of breath. I'm like- just get it right! Every time they darkened a letter that she got right, I was that much closer to victory!"

Shruthika is known for being a straight-A student, a competitive field hockey player, and of course, an expert speller, logging hours and hours of practice, according to her principal, George Guy.

"These are not middle school words per se, but they are Shruthika Padhy words definitely," Guy said.

Her teachers know that as Shruthika asks clarifying questions on stage, she is strategizing how to proceed.

Aristone explained, "I think it is very strategic. When she's looking at the words, she's looking at the root words- the Greek, the Latin root words. She understands that certain endings comes from certain languages."

After the bee stretched for hours, the pronouncer finally said those left after the 20th round would all be declared winners.

The eight victors were on Good Morning America Friday morning.

Padhy said, "It's amazing to be able to share the title. It's even more special because we get to share it with seven other amazing spellers."

The celebrations will continue with a party in school next week. Padhy is also expected to be honored by the school board.

The full list of Scripps National Spelling Bee winners are: Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhatankar, Abhijay Kodali, Christopher Serrao and Rohan Raja.

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Cherry Hill girl among Elite 8 Spelling Bee champions. Karen Rogers reports during Action News Mornings on May 31, 2019.

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