Suburban Teen Finishes Fifth at National Spelling Bee

She tied another contestant for fifth place

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A west suburban eighth-grader finished in fifth place at the Scripps National Spelling Bee championship finals Thursday.

    Alia Abiad, a 14-year-old from Western Springs, was eliminated when she misspelled “irbis,” the name for a Russian Snow Leopard. She tied another contestant for fifth place.

    And that wasn’t the only tie in the finals.

    Two boys — Sriram Hathwar of Painted Post, New York, and Ansun Sujoe of Fort Worth, Texas — were declared co-champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, marking the first time two spellers have tied to share the title since 1962.

    The rare co-victory came after a riveting final-round duel Thursday night in which they nearly exhausted the 25 designated championship words. After they spelled a dozen words correctly in a row, they both were named champions.

    He and Ansun will share $33,000 in cash and prizes.

    Four other Illinois students competed in the semifinals.

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

    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.