He didn't win, but local spelling champion Ben Paric made a promise to return to the Arizona Spelling Bee next year.
Paric pledged to his mother, "I'll be back next year, and as many years as it takes to get to the nationals."
Paric survived the first two rounds at the state meet, correctly spelling "principal" and "luminous" before getting tripped up in the third round by "millennium." The Frontier Elementary School fifth-grader admitted to being nervous, and had a simple explanation for his miss.
"Yeah, sure, I was really nervous," he said. "And I had seen millennium spelled several places with only one 'n.'"
Paric, who won the regional tournament last month, was one of 25 state finalists at the event for kindergarten through eighth-graders, held Saturday at the KAET-TV/Channel 8 studios on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. The competition was videotaped and will air on Channel 8, the Valley's PBS affiliate, at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday April 2, and again at 11 a.m., Sunday, April 7.
Paric's mother, Marcy Paric, accompanied him to the competition. She said it was both exciting and a bit frightening.
"It was much more formal than in the earlier rounds," she said. "We we're completely shocked. But now that he's been there and seen how it's done, he should be more comfortable the next time."
Paric felt he acquitted himself well for his first appearance at the state tournament, and thoroughly enjoyed himself.
"It was a good experience really fun," he said. "You get a T-shirt and everything."
Paric whose hobbies include music, computers and, of course, reading is not only a good speller, but also articulate and determined.
"I'm going to keep doing this until I'm first in the state or until I hit the eighth grade," Paric said.
The title of state champion speller was eventually won in the 12th round by Varun Rajan of Maricopa County Region 1, a student at Andersen Junior High School in Chandler. In the late rounds, Rajan successfully spelled "socialite," "quintessence," "dechlorinate" and "stereognosis" to earn the championship.
For complete tournament results and more information on the spelling bee, go to the website azedfoundation.org.