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First-time contestant wins Arizona spelling bee

PHOENIX — A Scottsdale middle-schooler was not lying down on the job at the Arizona Spelling Bee, successfully putting together “recumbent” to win the title.

Nicola Ferguson, a seventh-grader at Sunrise Middle School, captured the Arizona Spelling Bee last week in downtown Phoenix.

The 13-year-old had never competed in the state bee before but managed to beat 26 other good spellers.

A dozen students represented Valley schools.

Keshav Nandakumar, of Sierra Verde STEM Academy in Glendale, finished second.

The contestants ranged in age from 9 to 14.

Ferguson earned $800 and a free trip to the national final May 25-26 near Washington, D.C.

The trip to the finals actually began in December with qualifying bees. Next came district bees, followed by county and regionals.