Local spellers setting sights on bringing home the crown at the Scripps National Spelling Bee

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- You can call it the Super Bowl of spelling-- 300 of the best middle school spellers in the country going word for word in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Two local girls-- Ananya Vinay from Fresno's Fugman Elementary and Porterville's Sameera Hussain from Sequoia Middle School-- are in Washington DC this week competing for the crown of Spelling Bee Champion.

"I really would love to make it to the finals," said Hussain.

It is Hussain's third straight trip to Washington after breezing through the local and state competitions to reach the national stage. This is the 8th graders last crack at the title before she's too old to compete.

"I think participating in the competition for the last two years; it just kind of helped learn what I needed to study. Instead of relying on the root of the word, instead I've been trying to focus on word patterns," said Hussain.

Vinay is back in Washington after making her National Bee debut in 2016. She's looking for redemption after getting out of last year's competition on what she calls "an easy word."

"It was multivalent-- I just had a minor confusion and it tripped me up."

Vinay's spelling bee advisor Ken Engel is confident in the 6th grader's ability to make it further in the competition this year. He said she soaks up knowledge like no other student can.

"She loves words, she's self-motivated, she loves it-- I just kind of get out of her way and let her do her thing."

Both girls hope to do their thing during this high pressure competition-- all the way up the finals which wrap up Thursday.

"It's kind of nerve wracking, but it's just between me and the pronouncer so I kind of just ignore the audience and just focus on my words," said Vinay.

The super-spellers will be focused and ready to take the stage when the spelling bee resumes Wednesday morning from Washington.
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