Flower Mound student advances to regional bee

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Mario Zavala/Courtesy photo
Lokesh Nagineni, 13, an eighth-grader at Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, won the Denton County Spelling Bee on Thursday by correctly spelling the word representative.

Lokesh Nagineni knows all about being a representative.

The Lamar Middle School student in Flower Mound has represented Denton County as the spelling bee champion for the past three years, and on Thursday, after correctly spelling “representative,” he clinched a fourth straight win to advance to The Dallas Morning News Regional Spelling Bee on March 22.

Nagineni thought the words in the Denton County Spelling Bee were pretty easy this year — he spelled “permeability” in the 21st round to edge past Briarhill Middle School sixth-grader Ananya Kodali, and made it official in the 22nd round with “representative.”

“You never know what words you’ll get,” he said Friday. “That’s the beauty of the Bee.”

Nagineni, 13, who is in eighth grade, is not shy about competition. He also competes in the University Interscholastic League science, math, spelling and dictionary skills competitions, and is taking 11th grade pre-Advanced Placement math.

In his free time, he likes to read and play sports, including swimming, racquetball, badminton, football, basketball and soccer.

“We love Lokesh,” said Jill Adams, his school counselor. “He’s really busy but he makes it look easy. We know it’s not.”

In the past three regional spelling bee competitions, Nagineni has been runner-up. This is his last year to compete — competitors top out in eighth grade — and a win would advance him to the Scripps National Spelling Bee to be held May 25-31 in Washington, D.C.

Nagineni said he will be studying the words from the list handed out to competitors to get ready for the regional competition, but, at the urging of his parents, he’s not feeling much stress about it.

“I’m going to just do my best and see how it goes,” he said. “They [his parents] just said, ‘Don’t put any pressure on yourself. ... All you can really do is do your best.’”

Kodali was the Denton County runner-up, and Nagineni’s 10-year-old brother, Jai, a fourth-grader, also competed in the countywide spelling bee.

But Nagineni is not looking to hand off the championship torch to his little brother. Jai has other interests, he said.

“He wanted to spend a year with me in the spelling bees,” Nagineni said, “but he probably is not going to do much, spelling-bee-wise.”

DIANNA HUNT can be reached at 940-566-6884 and on Twitter at @DiannaHunt.


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