Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2008
By Rita Howell
Fourteen-year-old spelling champ Cherry Mathis of Batesville left last Friday’s Scripps National Spelling Bee before she intended, but achieved her personal best ranking, 13th, out of 288 spellers from all over the U.S. and a number of foreign countries. It was her third trip to the national competition, for which she qualified by winning the Mid-South Spelling Bee sponsored by The Commercial Appeal. Her sister Meg, 16, had competed in the national bee in 2004 and 2005.
Both girls, daughters of John and Keiko Mathis of Batesville, had represented Tallahatchie County, where they attend school. Their mother is a music teacher in the public school in Charleston.
John, Meg and Cherry spent last week in Washington, D.C. attending events and activities hosted by the Scripps newspaper chain.
Cherry appeared on ESPN’s live telecast of rounds five through seven last Friday morning. She correctly spelled “ullage” and “floraison,” before misspelling “sciuromorph” in the seventh round. In the preliminary written spelling test, Cherry was one of only three contestants to score a perfect 100.
She received $500 for finishing 13th.
In the 81-year history of the national bee, the only other Batesville student to win the Mid-South Bee and advance to Washington was Mark Keating, son of Boyce and Betty Keating, who made the trip in 1962.