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Bee-reak a leg! Arizona sends two spellers to National Spelling Bee

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — When the proverbial curtain raises on the National Spelling Bee on Wednesday, two Arizona girls will be among the students vying to win it all.

Kelly Haven attends the Tsehootsooi Intermediate Learning School in Fort Defiance on the Navajo Nation Reservation. The 12-year-old won her first spelling bee in first grade and knew she wanted to complete nationally the following year.

She was the reigning champion of her school and has been nicknamed the “Queen Bee.” Haven wants to work in the medical field.

Kelly Haven (left) and Pemba Ba (National Spelling Bee Photos)

Kelly Haven (left) and Penba Ba (National Spelling Bee Photos)

The other speller from Arizona, Penda Ba, attends Sossaman Middle School in Gilbert. She likes to read and is on her school’s student council.

Ba said she wants to become an architect when her spelling days are behind her.

Sadly, Haven’s run in the bee was short.

Ba spelled her first word correctly.

The 90th bee technically began Tuesday, when 291 well-read elementary- and middle-schoolers gathered at a convention center outside Washington to take a written test. The nerve-wracking exam goes a long way toward determining who will be among the 50 or so spellers to advance past Wednesday’s preliminary rounds.

Neither of the Arizona girls are considered favorites to win, but we’ll all be pulling for them. You can watch the spelling bee live on WatchESPN — a streaming service — beginning Wednesday.

The finals will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Thursday morning and ESPN on Thursday evening.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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