A flower messed her up. With poise and composure, Eva Vega of Charlotte advanced to the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday, but was tripped up when she misspelled the word “cypripedium.”
A cypripedium is a type of orchid. Spelling in a deadpan tone, she missed only one letter, but that was enough to end her chances.
Before being cut from the competition, Eva made sure to correct veteran Scripps pronouncer Dr. Jacques Bailly on her name’s pronunciation.
“It’s ‘Ay-va,’ actually,” Vega said when she got to the microphone, drawing approving laughter from the audience.
The 12-year-old Carmel Christian schooler qualified for the final round by spelling “elocutionist” and “raptus” correctly, adding six points to her written test score of 28, which advanced her alongside 44 other contestants. She won The Charlotte Observer spelling bee in February to make it to Maryland.
“We are absolutely elated,” said Eva’s father, Edgardo Vega, when she was announced as a finalist.
Of the 284 spellers who competed at the Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., only 45 made it to the final spell-till-you-drop style oral round.
Despite being eliminated in the opening round of the final, Eva said she’s happy to have made it that far in the intense competition.
Edgardo Vega said Eva’s interest in language became apparent when she would ask what street signs said at the age of 2. From then on, her parents’ gave Eva as many books as she liked, and let their daughter take it from there.
“She learned by herself, mostly,” mom Vanessa Vega said. “We let her tell us what she wants to do; we don’t push her.”
Eva began winning school spelling bees in first grade. She came in second one year, but since then she’s dominated at her school.
Vanessa said Eva’s pores over the words she reads in books and also studies words from spelling bee study lists while playing video games with her younger sister Alexia.
“I like reading a lot and knowing new words from what I read,” Eva said. “I study the spelling, meaning and language they’re from to get the language pattern.”
Eva will begin seventh grade this fall, and says she shoot again for the National Spelling Bee championship.
“As long as she’s having fun,” said Vanessa Vega, “we’re happy for her.”