REGION — Mihir Konkapaka on Thursday won the San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee for the second consecutive year, qualifying for a repeat trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The final word in the bee at Town & Country Resort in Mission Valley was exsufflation, a noun ” a word meaning “forcible breathing or blowing out (as in clearing the respiratory tract).”
“I’m excited because the words were really intense and there was no way I could prepare for that,” the seventh-grader from Mesa Verde Middle School in the Poway Unified School District said.
When accepting the trophy, Mihir thanked his school librarian and teacher for helping him in his preparation for the bee.
Jedd Li, an eighth-grader at Francis Parker School, finished second for the second consecutive year. Jedd will represent San Diego County in the national bee if Mihir is unable to compete.
The Countywide Spelling Bee was held in person for the first time since 2019. The field of 76 spellers from sixth through eighth grades from public and independent schools throughout San Diego County was reduced to 30 by the second round and 10 by the third.
Mihir won in the eighth round.
Mihir reached the third round of the 2022 national bee. Two San Diego County spellers have won the national bee — Anurag Kashyap in 2005 and Snigdha Nandipati in 2012.
“The Spelling Bee is a time-honored academic competition that any student can participate in to connect with school and develop skills that will help them in the future,” said Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools. “Students learn to set goals, dedicate time to studying and gain experience in public speaking, all of which are useful in college, career and life.”