SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – From second place, to winning the top spot this year. The winner of the 2016 CBS Bay Area Spelling Bee is a familiar face.

All forty-nine of the Bay Area’s top spellers and their families filled the KPIX 5 studios Saturday afternoon for the regional bee.

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On the line: A ticket to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

KCBS radio anchor Stan Bunger gave the 9- to 14-year-olds easier words at first, but they got progressively harder.

Gallery: 2016 CBS Bay Area Spelling Bee Contestants

After three and a half grueling hours, the crowd thinned down to the final three.

Last year’s regional winner, Meera Suresh took third place along with Anisha Rao.

Rohan Gupta won second place and took home a gift certificate to Baskin Robbins one of Saturday’s event sponsors. The eighth grader had his best finish in four years. He’ll be too old to come back next year.

I am extremely thrilled that I can use the knowledge I’ve gained over four years and apply it to other things,” said Gupta. “I’m just really happy right now.”

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The winner after 14 rounds was Rutvik Gandhasri from San Jose’s Chaboya Middle School. He came in second last year. The seventh grader goes home with a gold medal and a dictionary.

The winning word? Jarabe — it’s a Mexican dance.


“It doesn’t seem real. I’m gonna be so mad if this is a dream,” said Gandhasri. “It’s not a dream. It’s real.”

When asked what he was feeling at that very moment he said, “Ecstatic.”

He cried tears of joy.

“I’m okay now,” Gandhasri assured us.

His younger brother also competed this year. “I think he did really well this time. I’m really proud of him,” Rishik Gandhasri said proudly.

After the excitement wears off, Gandhasri will have go back to studying. He’ll be headed to the Scripps National Spelling Bee outside of Washington D.C. in late May. We’ll be rooting for him.

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Did you miss Saturday’s bee? Just click HERE and you can watch all the rounds.