BRIDGEWATER, NJ- The Somerset Patriots will welcome 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee co-champion Christopher Serrao to TD Bank Ballpark on Tuesday, July 16th for the team’s 7:05 pm game against the York Revolution.
Serrao, a 13-year old from Whitehouse Station, was among the eight spellers who became the first-ever to share an eight-way tie of the coveted title in the 92-year history of the event. He was also the first-ever to win from Central New Jersey (Somerset/Middlesex/Hunterdon). Previous New Jersey winners were Jonathan Knisely (1971 of Mullica Hill) and Kerry Close (2006 of Spring Lake). Close was also honored at TD Bank Ballpark after her win.
Serrao competed in 20 rounds of the competition with his winning word “cernuous,” meaning of a plant. : inclining or nodding : pendulous, drooping.
In a surprise announcement after Round 17 of the competition, Scripps National Spelling Bee official pronouncer Dr. Jacques Bailly announced there would only be three more rounds. “We are throwing the dictionary at you, and you are showing the dictionary who is boss,” Dr. Bailly told the remaining spellers.
“I did put in the hard work, but this would not have been possible without the encouragement, support and prayers of the community,” Serrao said.
Serrao will be recognized on the field, throw out a ceremonial first pitch, and participate in other activities throughout the game in celebration of his championship run.
His journey this year began in early winter when he won the Readington Middle School spelling bee. In the region of the Discover Lehigh Valley Regional Spelling Bee, some 25,000 students participated in spelling bees throughout the fall and early winter to qualify for regional rounds, including a preliminary written round held in February. The regional rounds consisted of school champions from 10 counties in western Pennsylvania and eastern New Jersey. Following the preliminary round, the pool of contestants was narrowed from 110 qualifying students to the 53 finalists.
The finalists took part in the Discover Lehigh Valley Regional Spelling Bee Finals held at the Northampton Community College in Lipkin Theater in Bethlehem Township on March 27th. The regional finalists represented eight counties (Berks, Bucks, Lehigh, Northampton and Montgomery in Pennsylvania and Hunterdon, Morris and Warren in New Jersey). For the third straight year, he won the regional bee and was on his way back to D.C.
After a grueling written test and 20 exhausting rounds of spelling that eliminated 557 contestants, Serrao’s journey at the Scripps National Spelling Bee culminated as one of eight co-champions with the national finals lasting over nine hours.
“Even though 11 million students around the country started the journey, there are so many more that did not have the opportunity to participate,” added Serrao. “I’m grateful to our school district for participating in the spelling bee and making the investment in this endeavor. I’m also thankful I had the opportunity to represent Readington Middle School at the national level and make our school district proud.”