Above, Tyler Wilson, Cooper Komatsu and Dina Miranda took the top three places in the annual Los Angeles County Scripps Spelling Bee.

Relaxing between rounds of this weekend’s Los Angeles County Scripps Spelling Bee, third-grader Tyler Wilson picked up a book – his favorite activity at Germain Academy for Academic Achievement in Chatsworth.

“When I read fiction, I get stuck in the book and can’t stop, and when I read nonfiction, my brain gets bigger,” the 9-year-old said.

That affinity for words may be the reason that Tyler was able to reel off words like “rehabilitation” and “circusiana” during the six-hour-long event held at Walter Reed Middle School. He hung in for 13 rounds before leaving the “i” out of the middle of “feloniously” and making the same mistake as he sounded out “singspiration” in a spell-off for second place.

Chloe Carbone from Hesby Oaks Leadership Charter and Tyler Wilson from Germain Academy for Acdemic Achievement take a break between rounds of the regional spelling bee.
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Chloe Carbone and Tyler Wilson from Germain Academy take a break between rounds of the regional spelling bee.

That trophy then went to Dina Miranda, a fifth-grader from Gant Elementary School in Long Beach, who nailed the spelling of “affidavit.” Eighth-grader Cooper Komatsu from Culver City Middle School correctly spelled “gudgeon” –  a small edible fish – to win first place. The winner in last year’s regional bee and the second-place winner in 2014, he will represent the region in May at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

A total of 100 spellers competed Sunday, representing traditional schools, affiliated and independent charters, and private and parochial schools. L.A. Unified entered the champion spellers from 29 of its schools. Tyler’s third-place win is the District’s best in the last couple of years.

As the ranks of spellers shrunk, Tyler and Chloe Carbone, a fifth-grader from L.A. Unified’s Hesby Oaks Leadership Charter, exchanged high-fives, a friendship budding as they battled through the rounds of increasingly more difficult words. With just five spellers left on stage, Chloe stumbled on “willowware,” an intricate blue-and-white china pattern.

Faced with unfamiliar words, many of the spellers pondered their answers, asking pronouncer Nick Cascone for definitions, alternate pronunciations and linguistic origins, ,some even sketching the letters on the palms of their hands. But Tyler bounced from his seat to the microphone and back again in a matter of seconds, seeming to scarcely think before he blurted out the letters.

Asked whether he had spent hours studying and memorizing the words, Tyler said, “Nope, sometimes I just guessed!”