Manav Thadani wins Territorial Spelling Bee Could you spell the final 10 words?

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ST. THOMAS - Manav Thadani had never been so ecstatic to hear the word "commensurate."

"I knew it," said the 13-year-old eighth-grader from Antilles School, who became a two-time, consecutive territorial champion on Friday at Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School on St. Thomas and will represent the Virgin Islands in the National Spelling Bee at the end of May in Washington, D.C.

Manav was shaking at the microphone, and uttered a quiet but joyful "yes," when he heard the familiar four-syllable winning word.

Manav said he sluffed off any nervousness in the first few rounds, but then he had to go 45 rounds total before winning.

Of those rounds, the last 31 were in head-to-head, nail-biting competition against 12-year-old Khaien Donawa, a sixth-grader from Claude O. Markoe Elementary School on St. Croix.

The two spellers did a fist bump at the end of their stretch for the first-place trophy.

"I was surprised," said Khaien, who said he did not expect to get as far as he did.

Khaien kept his cool the entire competition, though he had to pause in the 43rd round when he encountered the word "Holi," a Hindi word used to describe the Hindu spring festival.

The whole audience seemed to hold be holding their breath, sensing his hesitation.

After several minutes, Khaien took the plunge - spelling the word correctly, and sending the grueling battle into the 44th round.

Both Manav and Khaien received a round of applause after Khaien tripped over "ingenue," and Manav followed with the winning word.

Jenna Honore, of Evelyn Williams Elementary School on St. Croix, had the honor of being second runner-up, and nine other students also competed.

All of the students received awards and certificates, though Manav's ironically had his last name misspelled. Spelling bee staff said that they would fix it right away.

In all, six students represented schools from St. Croix, and six represented schools from St. Thomas.

The students were the top-scoring students from their own school districts' spelling bees.

The students, during the bees, are faced with an assortment of words, most of them pulled from Webster's Dictionary. The words can have origins from languages from all around the world.

On Friday, students received words that had English, Latin, Spanish, Italian, Russian, German, Hindi and Portuguese origins.

"Cheka," "guache" and "Bildungsroman" were just a few of the trickier words that made even the adults, including the students' coaches, scratch their heads.

"He spells better than I do," said Manav's coach, Sonya Swan. "I was not worried about him at all. He often corrects me."

Manav, who is also heading to Washington, D.C., for his third go at the national MathCounts competition this year, is going to celebrate his win by going paintballing with his friends on Sunday, his mother, Asha Thadani, said.

"I was nervous because it was so many rounds," Asha Thadani said. "I make him believe that if you work hard, God will be next to you."

After this weekend's celebration, though, it is back to studying for Manav, who is an avid reader.

"I'm going to continue the list I was working on, and I'm going to read the dictionary if I have time," he said.

The 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place May 25-31.

The Daily News has been the sponsor of the local spelling bee since 1985. The Daily News' sponsorship includes funds for the Territorial Bee and the champion and coach's travel and hotel costs for the National Bee.

The V.I. Education Department also is a sponsor.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email

1. Commensurate

2. Ingenue

3. Embarcadero

4. Fahrenheit

5. Misogynist

6. Holi

7. Capricious

8. Fusillade

9. Punctilio

10. Chassis

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