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San Antonio Area Speller Gets The Buzzer At National Bee


Hypopus [HIP-ah-puss] is a non-feeding migratory larva of some mites that attaches itself to and is passively distributed by an animal.  For one San Antonio area teenager, how you say the word and what it means don’t really matter.

From the judge's desk and over the loudspeaker you here: "Up next, 7th grader from San Antonio, Texas, 13-year-old Alex Iyer."

"Hello," Alex says with a big sigh.

"Hi Alex," says the announcer before continuing, "hypopus."

"Hippopis, hippapa, ya, "Alex says.

Alex was in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington DC that was broadcast on ESPN2.

It’s the spelling of the word that counts.  And the ding of that bell means Alex – who made it all the way to the finals, a first for a San Antonio teen – didn’t quite spell it right.

"H-I-P-P-O-P-U-S," Alex spells quickly.

He's met with the ding of a bell.

"Thank you," he replies.

The announcer says, "Hypopus is spelled H-Y-P-O-P-U-S."

"I'm really glad I got to get out on such an interesting word. And I wouldn't have done it without my dad, so thanks dad," Alex said.

His dad is Rajesh Iyer. Speaking on the phone from Washington after the competition Alex said his dad helped him a lot.

"The word pronunciations once you get to the national level are really hard, and he took the time to learn them and learn how to deal with words and really help me study and I thought that was really good," Alex says.

Alex attends the Geneva School of Boerne. He was one of 45 students to make it to the finals out of 300 kids from all over the country.  He plans to watch the remainder of the finals tonight.