After competing against nearly 50 of the top young spellers in Wisconsin, 11-year-old Maya Jadhav won the Badger State Spelling Bee on Saturday for the second year running.
The Fitchburg phenom won the competition and a ticket to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland by correctly spelling “panchax,” a common aquarium fish native to southern Asia. Maya, a sixth-grader at Eagle School, also took top honors last year as a fifth-grader and won third place in 2018.
Following her victory, Maya admitted that she had been “pretty nervous” ahead of Saturday’s Badger State Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Wisconsin State Journal.
“I really wanted to go to nationals, because I went last year,” she said, adding that anything less would have been a disappointment.
Adding to the perceived pressure, only the first-place winner is proceeding to the national competition. In previous years, a few of the top finishers in Wisconsin moved on.
Maya’s parents, Nitin Jadhav and Terra Theim, said they’ll make another family trip out of going to nationals in late May. Jadhav said his daughter takes the competition “very seriously.” Last year, Maya made it to the final round and tied for 41st place in the country.