State spelling champ ready for national bee

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PHOENIX -- Over the weekend the top 27 spellers in Arizona came together to vie for the state title. All of the contestants were between the ages of 9 and 14, and each one was hoping for a chance to compete in the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C. later this year.

Mitchell Behling is the speller who will be representing Arizona. He started by winning his school spelling bee, progressing to the district level, and then to the regional level for Maricopa County.

The 13-year-old eighth grader from Hamilton Preparatory Academy won the state title on the word "jadeite."

Mitchell stopped by 3TV Tuesday morning to chat with Scott Pasmore, Tara Hitchcock and Kaley O'Kelley.

In addition to being a champion speller, Mitchell enjoys playing chess, playing video games, and reader. He's about to become an Eagle Scout and he's also a soccer referee.

With his state title, Mitchell has earned a trip for two to Washington, D.C. for the national competition, $500 cash, a Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, a $100 savings bond, and "The Great Books of the Western World," which is a 60-volume set from Harrison Middleton University.

The competition at the national level is always intense, and it's more than just bragging rights on the line.

The winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee receives a $30,000 cash prize and an engraved loving cup trophy from Scripps, a $2,500 savings bond, a reference library from Merriam-Webster, $3,800 in reference works from Encyclopædia Britannica, and a $5,000 cash prize from the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation.

Last year's national spelling bee champion, Anamika Veeramani of Cleveland, Ohio, won on the word "stromuhr."

The first and only speller from Arizona to win the national title was Elizabeth Hess in 1953. Her word was "soubrette."

The 84th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is the largest and longest-running educational promotion in the country, is June 1-2.