It wasn’t a word that 10-year-old Evan Filer remembered hearing before, but with a little luck, the McEowen Elementary School fifth grader spelled “gristle” correctly to win the Cass County Spelling Bee.
The annual bee was held at the Raymore-Peculiar School District Administrative Services Center in Peculiar on March 6.
The Harrisonville student defeated four other spellers including runner-up Nick Caskey, an eighth-grade student from Raymore-Peculiar, for the win.
Other participants were Jacob Zink, a seventh-grade student from the Belton School District; Nathan Wagner, an eighth-grade student from Bethlehem Lutheran School; and Rachel Wilhoit, a fifth-grade student from the Pleasant Hill School District.
The spelling bee is open to students in grades fourth-eighth.
Filer, who was making his second appearance at the county bee after qualifying last year, was nearly knocked out of the competition during the eighth round when he stumbled at spelling a type of fabric, “seersucker,” after several rounds solely against Ray-Pec’s Caskey.
Filer was then given a second shot after Caskey misspelled “giraffe” during the following round.
Five rounds later, Caskey was eliminated after he incorrectly spelled “prescription.”
That’s when Evan Filer was asked to spell “gristle,” a tough fiber commonly found in meat.
“I kinda winged it,” he said. “I was nervous.”
Other words that showed up in the bee included, “hickory,” “spectrum” and “crimson,” as well as a couple non-traditional English words, including “adios,” which means “goodbye” in Spanish, and “tofu,” an Asian bean curd.
Judges for the event were Cass County Assessor Bob Huston, Cass County Collector Pam Shipley and Cass County Treasurer Steve Cheslik.
Ray-Pec Library Media Specialist Genese Wright served as the pronouncer.
As the champion, Filer receives an all-expense paid trip, including airfare, lodging, meals and spending allowance, to Washington D.C. in May to compete at the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.
He also received a trophy and $50 Visa Gift Card from UMB Bank.