SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — More than 50 of the Bay Area’s best spellers faced off Saturday afternoon at the CBS Bay Area Regional Spelling Bee for the fourth year in a row.

Fifty-one students to be exact, aged 8 to 14, competed in the 3-hour bee. They had already won their school and district bees, and survived a written elimination round.

The words soon got much tougher leaving only 16 contestants after Round 4.

The final rounds pitted Rutvik Gandhasri against Pranav Nandakumar. Both missed words in the same round.

Then, in Round 16, Gandhasri won with a word that means “pain in the shoulder.”

“O-M-O-D-Y-N-I-A… and we do have a winner!”

As the winner, the 13-year-old from Chaboya Middle School in San Jose returns to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C., where he placed in the top ten last year.

“I’ve been working for this a long time and this is my last year,” he said.

He admits he studied harder this time.

As for the runner-up, the 6th grader from Stratford Middle School in Fremont says he’ll try again next year.

Nandakumar says “it felt good” to make it this far.

Meanwhile, Amith Vasantha, from BASIS Independent Silicon Valley, came in third.

The spelling abilities impressed our judges, all former national spelling champs.

“An incredible amount of preparedness,” said one former bee winner. “Clearly, they’re both smart kids”

It was a bee to remember for pronouncer and KCBS anchor Stan Bunger.

“Yeah, to have words missed and spellers come back in, this was exciting,” he said.

CBS will follow Gandhasri as he travels to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May. Among his other prizes are a subscription to on online Merriam Webster Dictionary and Encyclopedia set, online courses, and a $50 gift certificate to Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream.


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