According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of the word “three-peat” is a sports reference used to describe a third consecutive championship.
Twelve-year-old Ananya Vinay, a 6th-grader at Clovis Unified’s Fugman Elementary, knows the word – and the dictionary – well. And she considers spelling a sport.
Ananya won the Fresno County Spell-Off for the third year in a row on Wednesday, beating out nearly 90 elementary and middle school students at the 23rd annual event, held at Fresno State’s Satellite Student Union.
She also has won the California State Elementary Spelling Bee two years in a row, and will now head back to the state competition, held in Stockton, in May. She also will return to the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington, D.C., this year, which she competed in the first time in 2016 but was eliminated in the third round after misspelling “multivalent.”
On Wednesday, Ananya won on the word “sloganeer” after going head-to-head for several rounds with Mary Clare Nadores, a fifth-grader at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Elementary in Clovis.
The girls were the last two standing in the competition, beating out their middle school counterparts. Steven Rodriguez, an 8th-grader at San Joaquin Elementary in the Golden Plains Unified District, and Emma Muscato, a 7th-grader at Clovis Unified’s Granite Ridge Elementary, were the middle school co-champions. All four of the finalists will go on to their respective state competitions.
Ananya is excited to keep competing, but says she’s older and wiser this time around.
“Last year I learned just to be careful and ask all the questions,” she said. “And I learned harder words, so I think I’m better prepared.”
She’s getting better at dealing with stage fright, too.
“I always get nervous because I don’t know what words I’ll get, but I just try to think and figure it out,” she said.
The Spell-Off is sponsored by the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools office in partnership with The Fresno Bee. Other sponsors include Fresno State, Chevron, Granville Homes, EECU Credit Union, the Shops at River Park and the ERC grant writing firm.
Sameera Hussain, a student at Sequoia Middle School in Porterville, won the Tulare County Spelling Championship held in February. It is sponsored by the Visalia Times-Delta.
Sameera also won last year and the year before, making her the only student to win three times in the Tulare County spelling bee’s 18-year history.
She will also head to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is scheduled for May 31-June 1.