WASHINGTON – What city, divided by a river of the same name, was the imperial capital of Vietnam? The answer to this question — Hue — won 14-year-old Caitlin Snaring from Redmond, Wash., a $25,000 college scholarship Wednesday at the 19th annual National Geographic Bee. Caitlin is only the second girl to win in the bee's history.
"I don't know why more girls aren't interested in geography," she told reporters after winning the championship round. "I wanted a girl winner this year."
This was Caitlin's second time representing Washington state at the competition which challenges 10-to-14-year-old knowledge of geography, culture and geology. Last year she was eliminated in the preliminary round. Her father, David Snaring, said she started studying for the 2007 bee the day after her loss. She even studied while attending her brother's baseball games, he said.
This time around, Caitlin did not miss a single question in two days of intense competition.
During her introductory banter with the bee's moderator, "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek, Caitlin revealed that her other passion is studying the history of pottery and making ceramic replicas. Recently, her interests have been particularly captured by Greek and Minoan pottery, she said.
Besides her father, Caitlin was joined by her mother, Traci Snaring, and 13-year-old brother, Carl. Her grandmothers, Selma Snaring and Betty Hedge, also attended.
Suneil Iyer, 12, from Olathe, Kan., came in second. He won a $15,000 college scholarship. Third-place contestant, Mark Arildsen, 13, from Nashville, Tenn., won a $10,000 college scholarship. All of the top 10 finalists won $500 for advancing beyond the preliminary round.
Fifty-five participants between fifth and eighth grade came to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national bee. They represented the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Pacific Territories and the Department of Defense dependent schools. The group was narrowed down to 10 finalists during the first round of competition Tuesday.