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Coast Spelling Bee’s first champion has come a long way to the title


JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Sam Evans thought his last chance to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee might have ended before it started.

“I just arrived here from South Florida about five months ago. It’s a great place. I really like it,” the 8th grader said just minutes after winning the First Coast Spelling Bee 2022.

Evans and his parents were heartbroken to learn that their new home in St. Johns County had already held its spelling bee. That’s when the Evans called News4JAX asking for help. The local station reached out to the other 13 local counties that had yet to crown a county champion to see if they would allow the homeschooler to participate in their bee.

14 local county spelling champions are competing in the 2022 First Coast Spelling Bee.

Union County welcomed him with open arms. Evans won this county bee. His winning word was “the Richter scale”. That led him to Friday’s First Coast Spelling Bee, hosted virtually by WJXT-Channel 4. The winner would qualify to represent Northeast Florida in the National Finals.

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“I have participated in regional competitions for a long time now. I just had fun this year,” Evans said.

The fun continued when he outlasted 13 other local county champions to be crowned the 2022 First Coast Spelling Bee champion, sending him to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC in May.

Its watchword: inhabitants.

“I was just happy to know that,” Evans said.

Evans has been participating in spelling bees for five years. As an 8th grader, this would be his last chance to qualify for the national championships, as the competition is for elementary and middle school students. “I’ve wanted to go for a really long time. So it’s going to be a great opportunity to be there. Be with all these other spellers and we’ll see what happens,” he said.

2022 First Coast Spelling Finalists

– Kaleb Hilliard

5th year

Nassau Co.

– Alexander Murnahan

6th year

Bradford Co.

-Addison Webb

8th grade

Suwannee Co.

-Cindy Kim

8th grade

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Colombia Co.

-Samuel Evans

8th grade

Union Co.

-Spence Edelstein

7th

Flagler Co.

-Kaitlynn Wilson

6th year

Putnam Co.

-Jeevan George

5th year

Alachua Co.

– Reddish Rena

7th grade

Clay Co.

-Marvin Mattair

8th grade

Madison Co.

-Ernest Quesada

7th grade

Duval Co.

– Deeksha Hariharan

6th year

St. Johns Co.

– Kaylyn Murphy

6th year

Hamilton Co.

-Dallas Normal

7th grade

Baker Co.

Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax – All Rights Reserved.

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