CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A fifth grader from a Corpus Christi elementary school will represent the Coastal Bend in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Last week, 11-year-old Max Hernandez defeated a middle schooler in a tie-breaker for the regional championship.
Prior to that, he'd taken home his school's title at Club Estates Elementary.
“Don’t overthink it — I guess — and try to practice a lot," is what Max said is the keys to his success.
He started competing in spelling bees when he was in first grade.
It was mandatory then, and now he's hooked.
“I didn’t really know what it was, so I just did it," Max said. "And I ended up getting second place or third place on it. And then I just said, ‘Hey, I might do this next year.”
He placed well in spelling bees in second and third grades, but then didn't get to compete in fourth grade because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now he's headed to Washington, D.C. in June to take on the best spellers from across the country.
“I’m very excited," Max said. "But it’s still like nervous that I’m going up against tons of very good spellers.”
His mom and dad will be with him as he competes in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in June.
Father, Johan Hernandez, remembers watching Max compete in his school's bee from his tablet while at work.
“I couldn’t even function that day," the elder Hernandez said. "I was like so full of excitement, and I was nervous at the time too."
There will be nerves from both father and son once the national bee begins. To combat those nerves, Max plans to stick to his game plan from the earlier competitions.
"I didn’t really think about it and practiced," he said. "That’s really all I did.”