PUSD 8th Grader Wins San Diego County Spelling Bee

Ben Evans

Ben Evans, an 8th grader from Twin Peaks Middle School in Poway, is the new countywide spelling bee champion, besting the two-year winner after several rounds of increasingly difficult words.

After several nail-biting finalist rounds at the 54th San Diego County Scripps Regional Spelling Bee, Ben correctly spelled the winning word “Epihippus,” which is an extinct genus of the modern horse family.

“I can’t believe what’s happening” he said after the bee. “I worked so hard for this.”

Now, Ben will go on to represent San Diego County at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the Washington, D.C. area in late May.

“Now, I guess I’ve got to go study some more,” he joked.

The bee celebrates school-site spelling bee winners in grades six through eight from public and independent schools throughout the county as they proudly displayed their linguistic prowess while connecting with peers. It was organized by ABC 10News in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education and presented by San Diego County Credit Union.

The San Diego County Office of Education has been a countywide Spelling Bee partner for many years, highlighting the importance of academic rigor, preparation, and perseverance for our region's young people.

“The Spelling Bee is a time-honored academic competition that any student can participate in to connect with school and develop skills that will help them in the future,” said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools. “Spelling bees provide students who may not have interest in sports or arts a chance to be part of a scholastic competition and offer another way for students to connect with their schools.”

The competition started off with more than 80 spellers and relatively easy words in the crowded gymnasium at the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA in San Diego. By the third round, the words were much more difficult, and fewer than half of the students remained. After 19 rounds, Mihir Konkapaka, a two-time champion from Mesa Verde Middle School in Poway, and Ben were the last two spellers with Ben the winner. Mihir, the runner-up, will be an alternative in case Ben is not able to compete at the national level. 

San Diego County has a history of making a strong showing at the national level. In 2012, the local winner, Francis Parker School student Snigdha Nandipati, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee. In 2005, Anurag Kashyap, a student from Poway, won the national competition.

To prepare, spellers studied the School Spelling Bee Study List, the Words of the Champions, and the Word Club app to learn about word meanings. All these resources were provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee. 

Learn more about the spelling bee competition details and past winners on the SDCOE Spelling Bee webpage. Access pictures and more information from the bee by following @SanDiegoCOE on X (formerly Twitter)Facebook, and Instagram or searching #SDBee.


Additional Media Coverage of Ben's Win: