WASHINGTON – With mom,dad and little sister,Hannah,in tow,Matthew Evans traveled nearly 2,000 miles to compete in the 78th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee for the second year in a row.
In Round 1 Wednesday morning,the Albuquerque,N.M.,speller took a multiple-choice written test of 25 words and then took to the stage and correctly spelled “malmignatte,” which is a small,black,venomous spider.
Despite dodging the spider’s bite,Matthew discovered he fell out of competition when the list of spellers bound for Round 3 was issued and his name was not on it. The competition continued Thursday.
For Matthew,10,the trip hasn’t been all about words.
Tuesday afternoon,he and his family took a break from studying to go on a safari,but it didn't involve animals.
“The photo safari tour brings you to a lot of the famous monuments,and the photographer teaches you to take good pictures,” Matthew said as his father,Randy Evans,stood beside him,camera in hand.
First,Matthew had to review his words.
“On average I probably study between 1½ and two hours a day,” Matthew said. “But these last couple of days I have probably been studying about three hours.”
“Its crunch time,” Matthew said with a wide grin.
The spelling phenom is representing the Albuquerque Tribune at the National Spelling Bee.
Matthew said Tuesday he was confident that he would be successful,even though he was up against older competitors.
“Some of the older kids have been here a couple more times than me,so they probably have a little more of an advantage,” Matthew said.
Matthew is among two 9-year-olds and 12 10-year-olds competing this year. The rest of the 273 spellers are ages 11 to 14. He is also one of 52 spellers returning for a second year. Four spellers are at their fourth bee and 13 are three-timers.
At last year's bee,Matthew got 16 points in Round 1. The cutoff to advance to the next round was 17 points. Matthew's mother,Helen Evans,had hoped he would move on with ease this year.
“He did the practice test at home,and he got 23 out of 25 right,” she said,speaking as both a mom and coach.
He couldn't remember exactly how many words he studied in preparation for the bee.
“It feels like a million,” he said.