HILO, Hawaii - Tyler Yoshiyama, a seventh-grader at Hilo Intermediate School, is a voracious reader, a trait that paid off in the finals of the Big Island spelling bee yesterday.
The youngster correctly spelled "fronton," the playing area for the high-speed game jai alai, and then "kestrel" to win the event at the Hilo High School auditorium.
The 13-year-old Yoshiyama, son of Larry and Dale Yoshiyama, said afterward he knew how to spell kestrel, a small European falcon, from "reading a whole bunch."
His teacher, Mary-Lee Helms, said Tyler practiced every day for the bee. He advances to the state spelling bee.
Runner-up was St. Joseph School eighth-grader Kimberly Reinhold, 13, daughter of Charles and Rhoda Reinhold. She stumbled on the word "palooka."
The 17 other contestants from around the island were eliminated in the first five rounds.
For the 14th year, the Ys Mens Club, a service group of the Waiakea Settlement YMCA, was one of the events sponsors.
Trophies were donated by Thomas Hirano of the Stationers Corp., another long-time sponsor.
The Hawaii spelling bee champion wins a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. The trip is sponsored by The Honolulu Advertiser.
The state champion also will receive a Merriam-Websters Third New International Dictionary; a $200 Sears merchandise certificate; a Radio Shack compact disc player; a $100 U.S. Savings Bond from Samuel Louis Sugarman; a Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee gift certificate; and, for the winners parents, a $20 Tesoro Hawaii gift certificate.
The winners school will receive a computer and printer from Comp USA and a World Book Millennium 2001 Multimedia Reference Library from the Hawaii Court Reporters Association.
Aloha Airlines will fly Neighbor Island contestants to Oahu for the state competition at no charge.