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Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - Page updated at 12:42 p.m.

Issaquah geography whiz finishes sixth in nation

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Max Sugarman, the 13-year-old geography whiz from Issaquah, placed sixth this morning in the National Geographic Bee finals held in Washington D.C. The seventh-grader from Pine Lake Middle School was one of 10 finalists who had advanced from the preliminaries yesterday to compete for first prize: a $25,000 scholarship and a spot at the international bee.

Sugarman answered eight out of 10 questions correct. Moderator Alex Trebek stumped Sugarman when he asked, "Barriers at Woolwich protect what capitol city against storm surges from the North Sea?" The correct answer is London, but Sugarman answered Amsterdam.

Minnesota student Nathan Cornelius won first prize and Karan Takhar of Rhode Island won second prize.

Like a spelling bee, each of the finalists was given a series of increasingly difficult questions about places around the world that they answered orally or in writing. After two incorrect answers, the contestant was eliminated.

In the last 10 years, two Eastside students have brought the national title back to Washington. The 2001 title went to an eighth-grader from Bellevue, Kyle Haddad-Fonda, and the 1997 winner was a Kirkland seventh-grader, Alex Kerchner.

Sugarman earned his ticket to the competition April 1, when he won the state competition at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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