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.
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.
“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
– Alexander Murnahan
– Reddish Rena
– Deeksha Hariharan
St. Johns Co.
– Kaylyn Murphy
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