A sixth-grader from Carmel Christian School with dreams of being an author took the top spot at the 2016 Charlotte Observer Spelling Bee on Monday at ImaginOn’s Wells Fargo Playhouse.
Eva Vega, 12, won after correctly spelling “bailiwick” and “elegy,” edging Dhruv Dudhat, who stumbled on “velveteen.” Dhruv is a fourth-grader at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system’s Piney Grove Elementary.
Eva – who loves cheese, reading and the show “Teen Titans Go!” – was runner-up last year, eliminated after misspelling “stymieing.” She is the daughter of Edgardo and Vanessa Vega, respectively an engineer and a certified public accountant, of Waxhaw.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Eva said. “I knew I was going to try and do my best, and I would be happy wherever I ended up.”
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Third place went to Nithya Sampath, 13, of Lake Norman Charter. She in the eighth grade and the daughter of Sam and Lakshmi Sampath of Concord.
Dhruv, 10, used a largely successful trick of tracing out the letters of each word on with one finger on his palm while spelling.
The boy – whose hobbies are math, soccer and reading – said it’s an idea he got from his older sister, an avid speller. His parents are Guita, a business owner, and Babu Dudhat, originally of India, who have lived in the United States for 14 years. Dhruv said his dream is to be a scientist.
“I like to take words apart,” Dhruv said of his penchant for breaking words down. “When I spell words, it’s a way to calm down. I write it out in my hand to see if it’s right or not.”
The event this year had 27 contestants from 13 North Carolina and South Carolina counties, including students from public, private, parochial and charter schools. Four of the students had been in the event at least one previous year, and two had a brother or sister compete in the bee in past years.
Eva receives an all-expense-paid trip for two to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., compliments of The Charlotte Observer; Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, courtesy of Merriam-Webster; the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, 2016 United States Mint Proof Set; and a one-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica online, courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica.
Dhruv won gift cards for $250 from VISA and $25 from Barnes & Noble, both courtesy of The Charlotte Observer; and a Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary from Merriam-Webster.
Nithya won a $150 VISA gift card and a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, both courtesy of The Charlotte Observer.