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WASHINGTON - Two-time Montana spelling champion Sean Dennison of Helena misspelled "pizzicato" Thursday and was eliminated from the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.

Sean offered "pizzAcato" for the word, a musical term meaning a note or passage played by plucking strings.

The 12-year-old eighth-grader from Helena Middle School earned the right to represent Montana at the national bee by winning the 2003 state bee, held in Butte in April. He also was the state champion in 2002.

Sean was one of 84 finalists who started the third round of competition, which was televised nationally by ESPN.

In the first round, the Montanan correctly spelled "maquillage," which means makeup.

He won a spot in Thursday's Round Three by correctly spelling 19 of 25 words on a written test. The cutoff was 15 correct words.

Sean is the son of Mike Dennison and Sue O'Connell.

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