Lanier Middle sixth-grader defends spelling bee title

LAWRENCEVILLE - For the second consecutive year, Asad Ladhani cultivated success at the Gwinnett County Spelling Bee.

After runner-up Ryan Bhowmik misspelled "grivation," Ladhani correctly spelled that and "dicotyledon," which is a plant with two seed leaves, to become the 2009 champion of the county competition on Saturday.

Ladhani's winning word last year? "Poinsettia," a tropical shrub with yellow flowers and petal-like red leaves.

"I feel great," the Lanier Middle School sixth-grader said after winning the competition. "I was kind of nervous but kind of confident because I had experience of what a spelling bee is like."

Ladhani said he was "pretty confident" he would win after Bhowmik, a fifth-grader at Camp Creek Elementary School, incorrectly spelled his 23rd word of the oral competition. Ladhani knew "grivation" but "dicotyledon" gave him a moment's pause. He looked relieved when caller Leslie Sniff gave a second pronunciation of the word.

Bhowmik, who won $75 in the Gwinnett Daily Post-sponsored bee, tackled words including "megatonnage," "desultoriness" and "synoptophore" before he was eliminated.

"I thought I probably wouldn't win because he (Ladhani) is a really good speller and I saw him win last year," Bhowmik said.

Both Bhowmik and Ladhani, who won a $200 prize, said they plan to continue studying to prepare for the district spelling bee Feb. 28 at Collins Hill High School.

The 12 students who participated in the oral bee will also compete in the district competition. The fourth- through eighth-graders qualified for the oral bee by earning the highest number of points during the written bee Saturday morning. Students from 59 elementary schools and 19 middle schools participated in the written portion of the competition after winning their school spelling bee.

Naveed Khan, an eighth-grader at Sweetwater Middle School, was eliminated in the eighth round on "artogravure." The five-time county bee participant was last year's runner-up. He and the rest of the oral bee competitors each won a $25 prize.

In the third round, Khan had stepped up to the microphone to spell "ululate" when the competition stopped briefly because a protester for Erin Gardner, an eighth-grader at Shiloh Middle School, challenged her elimination on "thoracic." After reviewing the tape, the judges decided to readmit Gardner into the competition because her pronunciation of the word was not clear and she did not ask for a definition.

Meanwhile, Khan used the time to think about the word he had been asked to spell.

"At first, I thought I didn't know the word," he said. "But I thought about it ... and when my turn came up again, I spelled it."

Lucy Chuang, a fourth-grader at Chattahoochee Elementary, was the last contestant eliminated before the competition between Bhowmik and Ladhani began. She misspelled "nucleophilic."

"I'm glad I can compete in the next one (the district competition) also," Chuang said. "I like spelling a lot. It's fun to practice because I read a lot."

SideBar: Spelling Bee Competitors

The following students participated Saturday in the written portion of the Gwinnett County Spelling Bee:

Quinton Tran, fifth grade, Alcova Elementary

Amy Dang, fourth grade, Alford Elementary

Rondi Gayle, fifth grade, Annistown Elementary

Toby George, fourth grade, Arcado Elementary

Ethan Kim, fifth grade, B.B. Harris Elementary

Deisha Gould, fourth grade, Beaver Ridge Elementary

Moriah Johnson, fifth grade, Benefield Elementary

Sonia Lau, fourth grade, Berkeley Lake Elementary

Brianna Sayamounghkoune, fifth grade, Bethesda Elementary

Ndicke Sow, fourth grade, Britt Elementary

Matthew Evert, fifth grade, Brookwood Elementary

Johnathan Celestin, fourth grade, Cedar Hill Elementary

Ledell Garcia, fourth grade, Centerville Elementary

Monica Cheung, fifth grade, Chesney Elementary

Kristin Casella, fourth grade, Cooper Elementary

Saba Maheen, fifth grade, Corley Elementary

Madison Greene, fourth grade, Craig Elementary

Laura Ann Williams, fourth grade, Dacula Elementary

Stephanie Awtry, fifth grade, Duncan Creek Elementary

Brianna Bowen, fifth grade, Dyer Elementary

AJ Schulte, fourth grade, Fort Daniel Elementary

Diana Michael, fourth grade, Freeman's Mill Elementary

Terrence Lanha, fifth grade, Grayson Elementary

Sabarish Sainathan, fourth grade, Gwin Oaks Elementary

Kodey Davis, fifth grade, Harbins Elementary

Brendon Machado, fifth grade, Head Elementary

Bedria Durdana, fifth grade, Hopkins Elementary

Young Choi, fifth grade, Jackson Elementary

Madison McCullough, fourth grade, Kanoheda Elementary

Dung Charlie Pham, fourth grade, Knight Elementary

Azem Fezjic, fifth grade, Lawrenceville Elementary

McKenzie Cottle, fifth grade, Level Creek Elementary

Isaac Ramirez, fourth grade, Lilburn Elementary

Sarah Scoggins, fifth grade, Magill Elementary

J.J. Stewart, fifth grade, Mason Elementary

Mitchell Wagner, fourth grade, McKendree Elementary

Christopher Martin-Matney, fourth grade, Meadowcreek Elementary

Cayla Duncan, fifth grade, Mulberry Elementary

Trung Bui, fourth grade, Nesbit Elementary

Sarah Churvis, fifth grade, Norcross Elementary

Matthew Dalton, fifth grade Parsons Elementary

Joshua Okagie, fifth grade, Partee Elementary

Ester Lee, fifth grade, Peachtree Elementary

Dylan Wilson, fourth grade, Puckett's Mill Elementary

Anav Mittal, fourth grade, Riverside Elementary

Jarod Lewchuck, fifth grade, Rock Springs Elementary

Oliver Cortez, fifth grade, Rockbridge Elementary

Taliah Boyd, fourth grade, Rosebud Elementary

Devyn Flynn, fifth grade, Shiloh Elementary

Ryan Lokhorst, fifth grade, Simpson Elementary

Osiel Olmos, fifth grade, Stripling Elementary

Chandani Desai, fifth grade, Sugar Hill Elementary

Riley Conner, fifth grade, Suwanee Elementary

Connor Brown, fourth grade, Taylor Elementary

Caleb Perumal, fifth grade, Trip Elementary

Matthew Herbig, fifth grade, Walnut Grove Elementary

Yuman Bilal, fifth grade, Winn Holt Elementary

Sarah Tasneem, eighth grade, Berkmar Middle

Doan Le, seventh grade, Crews Middle

Maryann Heydari, seventh grade, Dacula Middle

Supriya Sajja, eighth grade, Five Forks Middle

Bailey Phillips, eighth grade, McConnell Middle

Nicolette Brown, sixth grade, Jones Middle

Quinton Boyd, seventh grade, Lilburn Middle

Samantha Abreu, eighth grade, Radloff Middle

Kye James, eighth grade, Trickum Middle

Source: Carey McDurmon, Gwinnett County Spelling Bee coordinator