After 15 rounds of competitive spelling, Ram Koganti of Ottawa's Wallace Elementary came out on top at the 53rd La Salle County Spelling Bee Saturday.
Koganti's winning word was "sturgeon,"narrowly beating Owen Stoneking, of Waltham Elementary School in Utica.
"It's pretty hard," Koganti told the crowd after Regional Superintendent of Schools Christopher Dvorak asked him if he had anything to say upon winning.
Koganti has been studying for an hour each night since he won his school's spelling bee and thanked his family for supporting him.
Thirty-four top spellers from around the county competed for the chance to represent La Salle County at the grand finals in Peoria on Friday, March 15.
"It was kind of fun to compete against everyone,"Koganti told The Times. "You're facing everyone who won in their school so you're facing some good competition."
This was Stoneking's third appearance at the county spelling bee, having set a record at Waltham for most school wins.
Stoneking also said he's been studying hard with his family, and though he wishes he would have won, he was glad to have competed.
"Ithought we had some excellent spellers,"judge Lloyd Chapman said. "What we tried to do is go from easy to difficult words this year. The best speller won."