WASHINGTON,May 30 – Matthew Evans,12,a four-time contestant,advanced to the semifinals of the 80th Scripps National Spelling Bee Wednesday by correctly spelling “b-o-t-t-e-g-a,” the studio of a master artist.
He sighed with relief,glanced happily at his family and returned to his seat.
“My main thing was I was looking for it to be Italian,and I knew some language rules for that so I figured it out,” said the home-schooled 7th grader from Albuquerque,N.M.
His favorite word in the competition so far is “bewusstseinslage.” It's a German word meaning a state of awareness. It was one of 25 words on the written test that was the bee's first round. He chose the right answer in the multiple-choice test.
Despite the difficulty on the written test,Matthew spelled 24 out of 25 words correctly. Number 25 on the written test was none other than his favorite word,bewusstseinslage.
“The written test is just difficult. … It's multiple-choice and if they put commonly misspelled words at the beginning,you might start second-guessing yourself,” Matthew said.
“He's really worked hard,” said Matthew's dad,Randy Evans,45. “The best part for him was getting his word on the written test.”
Matthew was relaxed and prepared for the oral round following his written test. His word for the oral round was “adolescent.”
“I knew I knew my word,” Evans said after the oral round. “The words in this round were pretty easy.”
Some of the other preliminary oral round words were “guzzle,” “defendant,” “remembrance,” “frivolous” and “mastodon.”
Round 3 consisted of more difficult words like “compunctious,” “jocundity” and “avuncular.” In Round 3 of the quarterfinals,Matthew successfully spelled his word,”anticipatory.”
The future pastor combines his love of spelling and the Gospel,when on stage at the bee.
“I keep a little Bible verse in my pocket. It's not anything luck-related but just something to reassure me,” Matthew said.
Last year Matthew's featured Bible verse was Philippians 4:13; this year it's Psalm 28:7 – “The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in Him and I am helped.”
He moved on to Round 4,where,one-by-one,contestants tripped up,knocking the 94 Round 4 participants down to 59 for Thursday's semi-finals.
By making it this far,Matthew is assured of winning $300,a watch,a dictionary and several other prizes.
The semi-finals will be broadcast Thursday morning on ESPN,and the finals will be live on ABC from 8 to 10 p.m.