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Missoula student wins Treasure State Spelling Bee, headed to Scripps national contest

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Posted at 2:55 PM, Mar 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-13 20:18:38-04

BOZEMAN — Eighth-grader Ellette Whitcomb from Sussex School in Missoula will be heading to National Harbor, Maryland for the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Fifty-seven students from across the state gathered at Montana State University to compete in the 57th Annual Treasure State Spelling Bee. Some traveled a few minutes, others traveled hundreds of miles.

“In elementary school, I was just always good at spelling," Ellette said. “In sixth grade I spelled the word 'avocado' wrong, and I promised never to do that again.”

Many of the students competing began spelling competitively at young ages, and over the course of two and a half hours, they all took a turn spelling words for a panel of judges.

As time went on, the rounds grew larger, and the spellers dwindled down to a top three: Mason Stonehocker, Jairo Tumonong, and Ellette Whitcomb.

Tumonong, a sixth-grader from Roosevelt County, attends school at Northside School and credits his parents for their help to prepare for the Bee. Tumonong was given a bronze medal, placing third in the Treasure State Spelling Bee.

Stonehocker and Whitcomb landed in the top two, spelling back and forth. Stonehocker is a seventh-grader at Riverside Middle School in Yellowstone County and left with a silver medal.

Whitcomb’s championship word was ‘Phosphorescent’, and upon spelling it correctly, she secured her spot in the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“There’s a lot of words to go through, and she studied very very hard,” Lisa Whitcomb, Ellette’s mother said.

Despite the family’s busy schedule, they say they will be sure to make time and begin planning for their trip to Maryland for the national contest on May 29.