Three hours and 21 nail-biting rounds into Sunday's Fairfax County Spelling Bee, 10-year-old Shruti Anant had a few last requests of bee pronouncer Blake Giddens.
"Could you please repeat the word?" Anant asked.
"Prescind," Giddens replied.
While using her index finger to spell it in her left palm, Anant calmly tossed out another question.
"Can I please get a definition?"
"Sure," Giddens said. "To cut short, off or away."
"Language of origin?" she asked.
"It's from Latin," Giddens said.
That's all the Nysmith School sixth-grader needed.
"OK, prescind," she said with a smile. "P-R-E-S-C-I-N-D."
With that, Anant officially beat out 55 other competitors at Hayfield Secondary School to win the 2011 Fairfax County Spelling Bee and lock up a spot at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in early June. Anant needed every arrow in her quiver to hold off Jae Canetti, a confident third-grader from Hunters Woods Elementary. Canetti, who placed fourth in the Fairfax County bee as a second-grader last March, had a chance to win Sunday's bee when Anant tripped on "desiccant" in the 17th round, but he left an "i" out "imperbiabilize" a minute later to give Anant new life. Before eventually bowing out on "carapace" in round 21, Canetti easily handled words such as "acquiescence," "syncline" and "vituperative."
Jay Warrior, a seventh-grader from the Classical Conversations School in Fairfax, held on for 15 rounds before "epochal" did him in.
When asked how she prepared for her winning run, Anant chalked it up to lots of review time.
"I studied the Spell-it lists and words of origin for one or two hours a day," said Anant, an accomplished pianist and tennis player who will be part of Nysmith's Odyssey of the Mind team at next month's state championship.
Her mother, Meena, chalked Shruti's win up to another source.
"She has a real natural aptitude for words," Meena said. "She really loves languages of origin -- where words come from and why they're spelled a certain way."
Not surprisingly, she's a voracious reader, often going through two or three books in a week.
"She always has a book in her hand," Meena said, "even at breakfast, lunch or dinner."
"In the car, too," added Ashok Anant, Shruti's dad.
Asked if any of the 209 words she heard over the course of the afternoon might have grounded her, Anant confidently shook her head.
"Just the one I missed," she said. "I'm pretty sure I knew the rest."
That should bode well for the young Fair Lakes resident when she heads to the national bee in two months.
The Fairfax County Spelling Bee is co-sponsored by the Fairfax County Times and the Fairfax County Council of PTAs.