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Houston winners (l-r): Spelling Bee founder Rahul Walia, first runner-up Shourav Dasari, regional champ Shobha Dasari, and second runner-up Abhirami Jeeyaseelan.

Continuing its quest for the best speller in the community, the 2015 MetLife South Asian Spelling Bee traveled to Texas with stops in Dallas June 20 and Houston June 21, a Touchdown Media press release reported. MetLife, a leading global provider of life insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management, is serving as the event’s title sponsor for the seventh consecutive year (see earlier India-West story here: http://bit.ly/1SLj3IJ).

With a huge turnout this year, the spelling bee attracted top talent from young and new spellers competing for the coveted prizes and titles. Rahul Walia, founder of the South Asian Spelling Bee, described this year’s spellers in a Touchdown Media press release: “In almost every city, we are seeing a majority of new talent and fresh faces, which is testimony to the fact that this brain sport is close to the community.”

In Dallas, Smrithi Upadhyayula, 13, of Coppell, Texas, was the regional champ. Rahul Karthi, 12, of Irving, Texas, was the first runner-up, and first-timer Christopher Cruz, 11, of Frisco, Texas, was the second runner-up.

In Houston, the Dasari siblings competed with each other for 12 consecutive rounds before Shobha Dasari, 14, was named the regional champ, and her brother, Shourav Dasari, 12, became the first runner-up. Abhirami Jeeyseelan, 12, of Baton Rouge, La., was the second runner-up.

The winners received cash prizes of $500, $300 and $200, respectively.

Along with MetLife, food brand Kawan came on board as a sponsor for the event. As always, SONY Entertainment Television Asia was the exclusive broadcast partner for the MetLife South Asian Spelling Bee and will be airing the series across 120 countries.

Children up to 14 years of age are eligible to participate, and the contest even saw spellers as young as 6 years old compete and make it past a few rounds.

There are eight more cities on the anvil. For more information and to register your child, please visit: www.SouthAsianSpellingBee.com.

The top two winners plus one parent each from every city will be given an all-expenses-paid trip to New Jersey on Aug. 14 for the finals.

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