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Tigard's Luc Ta second at Regional Spelling Bee

PAMPLIN MEDIA PHOTO: GREG KOZAWA - Vipanchi Mungara spells a word during the final round of the Portland Tribune/Comcast Regional Spelling Bee at the Hollywood Theatre on Saturday. The Hillsboro girl, a student at Carden Cascade Academy, eventually won the competition.Vipanchi Mungara feasted — or is it banqueted? — on the word “epulation” and came away the winner of the 2016 Portland Tribune/Comcast Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday.

Local spelling bee fans wouldn’t have been surprised that Vipanchi, a seventh-grader at Carden Cascade Academy in Hillsboro, was the last student standing at the microphone after she finished as the runner-up as an 11-year-old last year.

As the Portland winner, Vipanchi earned a free trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, held May 24-26 in the Washington, D.C. area.

The Hillsboro girl has long been interested in spelling.

“I think part of it is I have such a hard name to spell,” she said.

More than 50 students in fourth- through eighth grades from schools in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties had qualified for the regional competition, which was held at the Hollywood Theatre in Northeast Portland.

Another veteran, 13-year-old Luc Ta of Tigard’s Fowler Middle School, was this year’s runner-up after tripping over “Galicians.”

Luc, in his third and final competition before he goes to high school next year, said he remembers nearly every word he comes across but had never seen the name for residents a region in northwestern Spain, so he took his best guess.

“I thought of words like ‘martian’ that have ‘tian’” at the end, he said.

Vipanchi and Luc had gone several rounds back and forth as the final contestants, knocking off words including stumpers such as “usufructuary” and “jadeite.” Finally, Vipanchi correctly spelled “diaphragm” ahead of Luc’s miss. Vipanchi then had to spell one more word correctly to win the crown.

Shortly before Luc heard the error signal, Conor Mehaffey, 14, of Lake Oswego Middle School narrowly misspelled “appestat” after making it into the final three.

The other seven students who made it into the final round of the competition were Angel Cruz, 11, Boones Ferry Primary School; Anouk Clendenning, Cedar Park Middle School; Yuankai Goa, 10, Oregon Episcopal School; Colby Ackerman, 11, River Grove Elementary School; Luis Luna, 14, St. Therese School; Helen Huiskes, 13, Stoller Middle School; and Victor Xia, 14, Three Rivers Charter School.

Vipanchi said she studied many hours for the regional competition and will double-down even harder during the next 10 weeks to prepare for the Scripps contest.

Besides studying, Vipanchi said the being an avid reader has helped. J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” series and other books, is a personal favorite, but she also rattled off numerous other series of books she plans to read.

“I have a big list,” she said.

“She loves what she does. She loves to read,” said her mother, Archana Sridhar Mungara, who also credited Carden Cascade for helping Vipanchi become a better speller.

In addition to the all-expenses paid trip, Vipanchi won a $100 American Express gift certificate from Comcast, a Webster’s Third New International Dictionary and a one-year subscription to the Encyclopedia Britannica Online Student Edition. Luc also won a gift card and other prizes.

The Portland Tribune launched the regional spelling bee, now in its 13th year. The Tribune is in the Pamplin Media Group, which includes many newspapers that serve the spellers’ communities in the three-county area.

Dave Miller, host of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Think Out Loud” program, served as pronouncer during the three-hour competition.


By Miles Vance
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