Semifinal spellers put to ultimate test in Scripps National Spelling Bee

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) - Fifty semifinalists are preparing to take the stage at the National Spelling Bee -- including the sister of the 2009 winner and two five-time participants.

Thursday's semifinals will be broadcast live on ESPN2, as will the finals Thursday evening.

Unlike in the preliminary rounds, spellers who get words wrong will hear the dreaded bell that signals it's time to leave the stage.

Among the favorites is 10-year-old Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kan., whose sister, Kavya, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee three years ago. Vanya was the only speller to earn a perfect score in the preliminary rounds.

Six-year-old Lori Anne Madison, the youngest speller in the history of the event, did not make the semifinals.
 

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