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5 Illinois Students Reach National Spelling Bee Semifinals

Meghana Kamineni of Lockport, participates during round two of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition May 28, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.   (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Meghana Kamineni of Lockport, participates during round two of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition May 28, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (AP) – Five Illinois students have advanced to the semifinals in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington.

The competition began Wednesday with more than 280 students from around the country, but only 46 spellers advanced to the semifinals using scores from onstage words and a computerized spelling-vocabulary test.

They include Yasir Hasnain, a 13-year-old from Forsyth; Lucas Urbanski, a 14-year-old from Crystal Lake; Alia Abiad, a 14-year-old from Western Springs; Meghana Kamineni, a 13-year-old from Lockport; and Christine Alex, a 13-year-old from Chicago.

Semifinals begin Thursday morning and the Bee’s 87th champion will be crowned in prime time on Thursday night.

The winner gets more than $33,000 in cash and prizes.

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