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 Poway Student Crowned Countywide Spelling Champion

After a tense final round of competition lasting more than 15 minutes, Allison Grygar from St. Michael’s School in Poway became the 45th U-T San Diego Countywide Spelling Bee champion Tuesday by correctly spelling the word “gurgled.”

Grygar will now go on to represent San Diego County at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Md., in May.

There was the buzz of excitement in the air as Grygar went against Christopher Ong of Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad during the final rounds. The two went back and forth with words so many times that Spelling Bee Master Dr. David Hay briefly ran out of new ones to give them.

The last back-and-forth came after about four hours and six rounds of unusual and difficult-to-spell words that knocked the other 89 contenders out of the competition, which took place Tuesday at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.

“Gurgled” was one of the more common words at the competition. Viewers probably heard quite a few words that were new to them as the students tried to spell them.

Some of the odder words included pileum, the top of the head of a bird; polyptoton, the rhetorical repetition of a word in the same sentence; nisse, a friendly goblin of Scandinavian folklore; and bronteon, a device used in ancient Greek and Roman theater to make a thunder sound.

San Diego County has a history of making a strong showing at the national level. The local winner in 2012, Francis Parker School student Snigdha Nandipati, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee. In 2005, Anurag Kashyap, a student from Poway, was the national champion.

“The Spelling Bee is one of the most time-honored of all academic competitions,” said Nicole Shina, who coordinates the Spelling Bee for the San Diego County Office of Education. “It’s a nice reminder that even in a world where we’re all texting and tweeting, spelling is important.”

The 45th Annual U-T San Diego Countywide Spelling Bee was presented by San Diego County Credit Union in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education, 10News, San Diego Hall of Champions, and Southwest Airlines.