Central Valley well-represented at Scripps National Spelling Bee

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Time is nearly here for 2017 champion Ananya Vinay to pass on her title as 'America's Best Speller'.

She hoisted this year's trophy onto the stage. Two local spellers will be striving to carry that legacy.

"It was really cool to just see that stage for the first time. I'm kind of nervous but I'm excited too," said Shiv Mehrotra-Varma

One of the contestants is 11-year-old Shiv Mehrotra-Varma. He knows Ananya not just from TV. She also happens to be his coach and next door neighbor.

"She's helped me learn to spell. It's nice to have someone who knows so much about the bee. She gave some lists that will help me and she told me what to expect at Scripps," said Mehrotra-Varma.

Shiv says he is just trying to enjoy the experience. Jaskam Singh says he feels the same way.

The eighth-grader is representing Tulare County.

"I got like 500 other people competing against me, just the numbers are terrifying," said Singh.

It is both of the boys' first trip to Scripps. Their journey will begin Tuesday morning with a preliminary spelling and vocab test.

"Each language has its own unique spelling. Eventually, that's what got me here," said Singh.

A rule change this year -- doubled the number of contestants compared to last.

Shiv and Jaskam are not going to focus on that part.
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