SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Sphacelated.
That's the word that decided the winner of the 48th annual San Diego County Spelling Bee Thursday.
Yash Hande, an eighth-grader at Pacific Trails Middle School in Carmel Valley, was the last student standing after correctly spelling the three-syllable verb which means to become gangrenous.
"I'm really happy. I had lots of hard work coming up to this point," Hande said.
Hande will represent the region in the national event outside Washington, D.C.
The competition featured more than 100 middle schoolers, students 6-8 grade. Under bright lights and crowded room, each student stepped up to the microphone and faced a panel of judges at the San Diego Hall of Champions to spell words such as "Fennec," "Hartebeest," and "Perestroika."
With three students and the contest approaching nearly four hours, one contestant had missed his championship word: "mamamu," a Hawaiian word for a fish that inhabits the Pacific Ocean.
In the end, Hande was spelling his name for the media while holding a shiny gold trophy.
"I was really, really nervous but, also, like really excited that I could, you know, like spell and like have some fun. Get to skip school, of course," Hande said.
Hande said that training for the spelling bee requires studying a lot of "words, roots...and try my hardest to know as many words as I could."
He says he'll take a break before resuming his rigorous diet of learning 3-, 4-, and 5-syllable words.
Ella Peters, a seventh-grader at Notre Dame Academy in Carmel Valley, won last year's county spelling bee with the word "phlegm." In the national competition, Peters correctly spelled two words but didn't advance to the finals.