OTTAWA — After 15 rounds of spelling competition a 13-year-old Wallace Elementary School student was named the victor of the 53rdannual La Salle County Spelling Bee.
Ram Koganti held off the competition and took home victory with the final word of the day — sturgeon — but he said it was the word specious that gave him the most trouble.
The secret to Koganti’s success was “practice, practice, practice,” he said.
“I am proud,” said his mother, Dr. Ushasri Koganti.
Second place was claimed by Owen Stoneking of Waltham Elementary School, Utica. Koganti and Stoneking managed to come out on top over a final group of five contestants who battled for a few rounds at the end of the spelling bee.
Longtime spelling bee judge Lloyd Chapman said the judges worked particularly hard this year to select a word list that increased in difficulty each round to ensure that it was truly the best speller who won.
As the first-place winner, Koganti received a plaque, $250 provided by the William Ieuter Trust, a $100 gift certificate to The Book Mouse and the opportunity to continue competing in the Grand Finals on March 15 in Peoria. His school will also be able to display the Stretch Miller Memorial Spelling Bee Traveling Plaque for the next year.
Stoneking received a plaque, $100 from the William Ieuter Trust and a $100 gift certificate to The Book Mouse.
Thirty-six school district winners qualified to compete in the La Salle County Spelling Bee.
Matthew Baker can be reached at (815) 220-6933, or firstname.lastname@example.org.