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Sep 11, 10:13 PM EDT

Maryland, Pennsylvania win preliminary competition on 3rd night of Miss America pageant


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Miss America Pageant

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Pageant hopefuls from Maryland and Pennsylvania won preliminary competitions Thursday night in The Miss America pageant.

Miss Maryland Jade Kenny won Thursday's swimsuit competition, while Miss Pennsylvania Amanda Smith won the talent portion by singing "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" from the musical "Phantom Of The Opera."

"I've been singing since I was 2 or 3," said Smith. "My mom tells me I would be harmonizing in the car before I could even speak."

Her choice of music was the first song she ever sang in competition when she was 15 years old.

The third night of preliminary competition came on the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and numerous tributes to the victims that day and those who responded to it were included in the program.

Katie Harman, Miss America 2002, recalled the uncertainty gripping the pageant in the days immediately following the attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania, when producers of the show left it up to the contestants to decide whether or not to hold the pageant that year.

"God bless America, and God bless those who fight to keep us free," she said.

Wednesday's winners were Miss Oklahoma Alex Eppler, who won the swimsuit competition, and Miss Kentucky Ramsey Carpenter who won the talent portion with a fiddle performance.

In Tuesday night's preliminary round, Miss Florida Victoria Cowen won the swimsuit competition, while Miss Ohio Mackenzie Bart won the talent competition for a ventriloquism routine.

The pageant's traditional "Show us Your Shoes" parade will be held on the Atlantic City Boardwalk Saturday night.

The next Miss America will be crowned during Sunday night's nationally televised finale.

Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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