GENEVA – The words came fast and furious, and two fifth-graders became the last two spellers standing, taking the Kane County Spelling Bee to a full 35 rounds Wednesday before Pranav Kollu of Algonquin emerged as the winner by spelling the word “degage.”
Pranav, who attends Cambridge Lakes Charter School in Pingree Grove, and his family will go on an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee from May 27 to June 1.
The Kane County Regional Office of Education is sponsoring the trip, officials said.
Pranav also won a $500 scholarship.
The competition between six boys and two girls took place at the Kane County Regional Office of Education in Geneva. The group quickly was whittled down to three competitors – Pranav, Aaditya Sanghavi of Elgin and Shiv Patel of Gilberts.
And then there were two: Pranav and Aaditya.
The pair went through words – such as gopak, phrontistery, gymkhana and kibitzer – at lightning speed, enthralling the audience with their spelling skills. A gopak is a Ukranian folk dance, phrontistery is a place for deep thinking, gymkhana is an equestrian event, and kibitzer is one who gives unwanted advice.
Pranav’s mother, Lakshimi Tadi, said she and her husband, Anil Kollu, took turns quizzing their son on the spelling words.
“I don’t have words for how proud I am,” Tadi said. “He worked really hard.”
Since he won the semifinal spelling bee, Pranav has been working on words every day, his mother said.
Before that, he worked on them twice a week, she said.
One of the things contestants could ask for was a word’s origin.
Pranav said it helped him spell the words correctly.
“Certain languages have certain ways of spelling,” he said.
Aaditya’s parents, Elgin residents Nick and Hiral Sanghavi, said they were proud of their son, who attends Glenbrook Elementary School in Streamwood.
“The credit goes to him and her,” Nick Sanghavi said, gesturing to his son and his wife, who he said worked on the words at least three hours a day.
“I had the words, and she tested me on them,” Aaditya said. “Every time I got one wrong, she marked it.”
Other contestants were Benjamin Fender of Batavia, who attends Holy Cross Catholic School in Batavia; St. Charles resident Liza Kadyschuk, who attends Thompson Middle School in St. Charles; St. Charles resident James Kennedy, who attends St. Patrick Elementary School in St. Charles; Nicholas DeLeon of Oswego, who attends Our Lady of Good Counsel in Aurora; West Dundee resident Grace Soh, who attends Dundee Middle School in West Dundee; and Shiv, who attends Hampshire Middle School in Hampshire.