OC’s champion speller headed to Washington D.C. to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee

“Foreordained” – meaning to dispose or appoint in advance – was the final word that officially clinched the title of Orange County Spelling Bee champion for 12-year-old Sarika Rau, a seventh-grade student from Sierra Vista Middle School in the Irvine Unified School District.

spelling bee winner photo
Winner Sarika Rau, left, and runners-up Kelly Hong and Ayush Nabar show off their championship trophies at the Orange County Spelling Bee.

After four hours and 18 rounds of intense competition on Saturday, Rau walked away with a large trophy and a copy of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. She also earned a bid to compete in the 88th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will take place in Washington, D.C. in May.

The Feb. 28 contest hosted by the Orange County Department of Education and held on its main campus featured 47 of the county’s best spellers in grades six, seven and eight from public and private schools.

They each earned a spot at the countywide Spelling Bee by winning preliminary events at their schools and a countywide written round last week with 117 competitors.

Second-place honors went to Kelly Hong from Heritage Oak Private School in Yorba Linda, and Ayush Nabar from Brea Junior High school in the Brea Olinda Unified School District placed third.

To check out in-depth coverage from the Orange County Register, which has sponsored the OC Spelling Bee for the past 26 years, click here.