A 13-year-old girl from Corona finished in 14th place in the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Lara Randhawa was eliminated in the seventh round of the national spelling competition, held May 31 through June 2 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.
At the June 1 semi-finals, Randhawa misspelled the word “piligan,” a club moss of the genus Lycopodium of Brazil and Argentina, with cathartic properties. The teen, an incoming freshman at Corona High School in the fall, made it to 14th place overall.
Two other young spellers from Riverside County also made it to the televised national competition: Faith Zapata, a sixth-grader at Palm View Elementary School in Coachella, and John Folsom, a seventh-grader from Van Avery Preparatory School in Temecula. Both spellers were out in round 1, in a tie for 163rd place.
Randhawa — winner of two consecutive first-place trophies in the 2021 and 2022 virtual Riverside County Spelling Bee competitions — is following in her older sibling’s footsteps. Her older sister Aisha, now 16, placed 7th in the national spelling competition in 2018.
The sisters are proud to have made it to compete with the best of the best. Lara Randhawa said she took her 9-year-old Maltipoo — Pearl, her “good luck charm” — with her to Maryland.
“I knew I could get that far, but you never really think of yourself being in that position until you’re there,” said Lara Randhawa. She also competed in the 2021 bee, held virtually due to the pandemic, and finished in a 16-way tie for 43rd place.
— Scripps National Spelling Bee (@ScrippsBee) June 1, 2022
The teenager is excited to join both the girls’ varsity golf and academic decathlon with Aisha, who is captain of both teams.
Her father, Ruvdeep “Happy” Randhawa, said he was proud of his daughters, both of whom have won many spelling competitions in the county.
“I couldn’t be more proud. Both girls love words; we’re a words family. We love knowing the roots and meanings, and every word has a story,” he said. “We’ve always been a family that believes that words have so much power when you use them in a way to communicate clearly.”
This year was Lara Randhawa’s final bee, as the competition is limited to students in eighth grade or below.
All the spellers eliminated in the semifinals received a $500 gift card and a commemorative medal. No spellers from Riverside County have yet won the national bee.
“(Lara) left nothing unturned; she gave everything she could,” Happy Randhawa said.
City News Service contributed to this report.