The Penn Spellbowl team edged arch-rival, Martinsville, by one point to win their fifteenth state championship and earn a place in Indiana history as one of the best of all time.

(Updated December 17th, 2015. Added the celebration video.)

The two teams were tied at 81 in West Lafayette on Saturday until Martinsville missed a word in the tenth round, opening up an opportunity for Penn to win outright.

“For the past three years, Martinsville has been one of our rivals,” Penn speller, Hannah McGinness said.

The Penn squad beat Martinsville three times during the season. Coach Pete DeKever felt the outright victory in the championship reflected the team’s strength and determination.

The team spelled 807 of 810 words right this season, giving them a better than 99% correct spelling average, setting a team record.

“He’s a great coach. He is very dedicated to the spell bowl team,” McGinnis said about her coach, Pete DeKever.

“He has us meet every single day, so that shows his dedication.  He makes sure that everyone in spell bowl works hard, whether you are spelling in varsity or junior varsity. He cares about all the players.”

The ten perfect Penn spellers were: Kanika Arora, Faihaan Arif, Muqsit Buchh, Maggie Finnessy, Presto George, Hannah McGinness, Hannah Smith, Athreya Sundaram, Michelle Tapp and Chris Yun. The team’s coach is Pete DeKever.

Over the course of the season, Penn had a perfect score of 90 six times in a row and spelled 807 out of 810 words correctly.

There will be a reception to celebrate the team’s success. Stay tuned to PNN for the date, location, and time when they are announced.

By Kevin McNulty

Kevin McNulty teaches English and Mass Media Studies at Penn High School. He advises the Penn News Network and manages the PNN Studio and news room. For more information, navigate your browser to