More than 20 from Bay Area compete in annual Scripps National Spelling Bee

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The Bay Area is well represented in the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee under way just outside of Washington, D.C. this week.

Among the 562 top spellers from around the country, 48 hail from California. And among those, almost half, 22, are the Bay Area's own.

"The Bay Area is a very competitive region," Valerie Miller, Communications Manager for the Scripps National Spelling Bee told KTVU.

At this year’s regional competition, there were many spellers who had competed in last year’s national finals, including the winner of the regional competition last year, Rishik Gandhasri of San Jose. The 13-year-old from Chaboya Middle School also competed in the national spelling bee last year, when he tied for 25th place.  

And it appears the success runs in the family. His brother took part in the spelling bee in 2016 and then in 2017, according to Miller.

As it is every year, the competition is fierce as spellers have spent countless hours preparing for this moment.

Anisha Rao of Dublin tied for 10th in last year's bee. The 13-year-old is back to compete again this year. She told the AP that her method for spelling especially tricky words is pretty straight forward. "...sometimes the best way is just to memorize the word."

Organizers said this year was a bit challenging because the Bay Area did not have a sponsor for the bee's regional program. 

"That means no sponsor to manage the program for all locally enrolled schools," Miller explained. "There are more than 230 schools enrolled in the local program. Without a sponsor, potentially there would be no regional spelling bee for spellers to compete and earn an expenses-paid trip to the national finals," she added. 

The majority of spellers come from public schools. 

The young competitors range in age from 7 to 15. From the Bay Area, they represent Santa Clara, San Jose, Milpitas, Sunnyvale, Pleasanton, Los Altos, San Ramon, Dublin, Redwood City, San Rafael, Fremont, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Alamo, Saratoga, San Mateo, and Foster City.

Preliminary rounds are held on Tuesday and Wednesay, with the bee's final rounds set for Thursday. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story. It was reported from Oakland, Calif.