The two went back and forth until round 31, when Hovis failed to spell perpetuity. In order to win, however, Meyer had to spell mackerel correctly. He did not, and Hovis was back in the game. Meyer then failed to spell mollycoddle in round 32, and it was now Hovis’ opportunity to put the contest away.
Before she did, she asked the principal how long this would go on. He said until a winner was produced, or until they ran out of words, which he said they were close to doing. Fortunately, this hurdle did not need to be crossed, as Hovis correctly spelled instinctively, becoming the Cooperstown Middle School Scripps Spelling Bee Champion.
“I’m very proud of all ten of you,” said Cring at the conclusion of the contest, praising the contestants sportsmanship and demeanor.
Plaques were handed out to the first, second and third place students.
When informed later on that Hovis was the first student to make an error, Kring expressed surprise, saying that the student who does that is generally gone in the next two to three rounds. He also said that this was probably the first time that the student who made the first error won it all.
“Good, really good,” said Hovis after the contest, when asked how she felt. “I actually did not expect to win.”
Hovis said that she’d prepared for the spelling bee by studying with her parents, George Hovis and Kim Jastremski, both of whom were at the bee and saw her win.
“The word she missed I’d never heard of,” said George Hovis.
Hovis will be representing Cooperstown at the Regional Spelling Bee at the State University College at Oneonta on March 1, sponsored by The Daily Star. Should she win, she will represent the region at the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington D.C.
When asked about regionals, Hovis said that she would continue to study her spelling bee words.
“I’d say she really has a chance,” said Devon Dickens, a student teacher at Cooperstown and a senior at the State University College at Oneonta who assisted with the Bee, on Hovis’ prospects at regionals.