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Saint Louis University Crowns Repeat Champion at Scripps Regional Spelling Bee

by Jacob Born
Media Inquiries

Jacob Born
Communications Specialist

Reserved for members of the media.

For the second time in as many years, Sonia Kulkarni was the last one standing. 

After competing against 27 other contestants at Saint Louis University’s 2024 St. Louis Regional Spelling Bee, Kulkarni stepped up to the microphone to deliver one final word, with a trip to Washington D.C. and a spot in the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee on the line. 

The word? Suspiration. 

A girl stands between a group of adults holding a plaque as they celebrate her victory on the SLU regional spelling bee.

Sonia Kulkarni (middle) celebrates her second consecutive victory in the Saint Louis University 2024 Regional Spelling Bee, punching her ticket to Washington D.C. for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May. Photo by Jacob Born. 

After asking for all of the information – definition, part of speech, language or origin and to use it in a sentence – Kulkarni delivered each letter flawlessly. 

Kulkarni’s victory was a culmination of months of hard work. Kulkarni first won John Burroughs’ school-wide spelling bee, and then finished as one of the top competitors at the qualifying round. In fact, Kulkarni was one of 28 students from around the St. Louis region to receive a perfect score in the qualifying round. Those 28 students formed the contestants for the Regional Bee. 

“It felt great to win again because it shows my hard work really paid off and that last year wasn’t just a fluke,” Kulkarni said. “It was cool to be competing against so many talented spellers too. It was really fun.” 

Kulkarni’s victory came in the 16th round of the Bee, nine of which were in the championship round. In the championship round, Kulkarni competed against Pritika Prasanth, the youngest student in the Bee, trading correct words much to the excitement of the students, friends and family in attendance. 

Ryan Wilson, Senior Director of Community and Student Engagement in the School of Education at SLU, has led the Spelling Bee each of the past two years that SLU has hosted the event, and was thrilled with how the event turned out this year. 

“SLU wants to prepare our city, not just SLU students, but our community, for the future, and that starts right here,” Wilson said. “We want our first graders, second graders to know what it feels like stepping on a college campus and see our students, see the morale and feel the energy that college brings. You can feel the excitement in the building with every correct word. It’s been a tremendous event and experience for everyone involved and we’re so happy to be hosting the Regional Bee this year and the years ahead.” 

Kulkarni now heads to Washington, D.C., looking to improve on her performance in the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee. 

“I’m so glad to have the chance to go back to D.C. and compete again,” Kulkarni said. “People don’t realize how much hard work it takes to get here. You have to learn the words that are on the spelling lists and then prepare for words outside of the list. So to be heading back to D.C. after all that hard work, it’s really rewarding.”