Clarendon's Abhinav is I-N-E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-B-L-E 10-y-o is champion speller for Clarendon
Kerry-Ann Hepburn, Children's Own Coordinator
May Pen, Clarendon: With no defending champion in the line yesterday, the race for the Clarendon parish title in The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee competition was wide open.
Five rounds of spelling saw last year's champion girl, Ashley Ricketts of Knox College, who everyone thought would be one of the contenders at the end, failing to advance when she incorrectly spelled I-L-L-I-T-E-R-A-T-E.
Another twist came when Romaine Davis of Knox College, who was also a favourite to win, had to settle for third place.
And then there were two.
Left standing after more than eight rounds was 10-year-old Abhinav Nallapati and eight-year-old Ledira Fearon, both of Glenmuir Prep. Words went back and forth between the two for a few rounds until Fearon stumbled and Abhinav took the championship with the word I-N-E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-B-L-E.
"I feel very happy and excited," Abhinav said after receiving his trophy. "I have to thank my coach, parents and teachers, who have helped me."
When asked about his preparation, Abhinav said studying was the key.
"All I did was study the book."
The sixth-grader, who was a big part of his school's football team and Cub Scouts, said he had to make a sacrifice to focus more on the Bee.
"Scouts took me away on Saturdays, so I had to give it up."
Abhinav was coached by Owen Rodney, who said he was not surprised by the result.
"I expected the win. He is a genius. He doesn't just swat words. He has a huge vocabulary and that is important," the coach told The Gleaner.
Rodney said preparing for the national finals will be different.
"We intend to intensify the preparation. We will be working longer, harder and smarter. We have already started unseen words."
Rodney is not a stranger to the winners' circle. The last time he won in Clarendon was in 2012.
Fifty students lined up to face spellmaster Dr Clive Lai and spellmistress Marlene Stephenson-Dalley at St Gabriel's Anglican Church Hall on Wednesday for the parish championship.
The national finals will take place in February 2015, and the winner will take part in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington DC in the United States a few months later.
The 55th Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee is being presented in association with Jamaica National Building Society, Sangster's Book Stores, Continental Baking Company (National bakery), Victoria Mutual Building Society, and Wisynco.
Best of the BEE CLARENDON
1. Abhinav Nallapati, Glenmuir Prep
2. Ledira Fearon, Glenmuir Prep
3. Roamine Davis, Knox College
4. Aaliyah Thompson, Denbigh High
5. Shannon Swaby, Vere Technical High
Top Boy: Abhinav Nallapati
Top Girl: Ledira Fearon