A Shakopee eighth-grader was eliminated before placing in the money during Wednesday's finals of the 27th annual National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C.
The national competition began Monday, when 14-year-old Shreyas Varathan and 53 other kids, ages 10-14, were tested on their global knowledge in hopes of capturing the top prize, a $50,000 scholarship and a trip with a parent or guardian to the Galápagos aboard the National Geographic Endeavour.
The national title Wednesday went to Karan Menon, of New Jersey. Shriya Yarlagadda, of Michigan, was second and won a $25,000 scholarship. Sojas Wagle, of Arkansas, came in third, good for a $10,000 scholarship. Shreyas lost in the first elimination stage, when the four lowest scorers were ousted.
Shreyas, who attends who attends Shakopee Area Catholic School, won the state geography bee in late March. To earn the top 10 berth, he correctly answered: "Name the peninsula in present-day Turkey, on the northern side of the Dardanelles, that was the site of a hard-fought campaign during World War I." Answer: Gallipoli Peninsula.
Wednesday's title round was moderated by TV journalist Soledad O'Brien. "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek moderated the bee for 25 years, from its inception in 1989 to 2013.
The championship round from the Washington Plaza Hotel will air on the National Geographic Channel at 7 p.m. CDT on Friday and again on Nat Geo WILD at 6 p.m. CDT on May 20.
The 54 finalists represented the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Atlantic Territories, Pacific Territories and Department of Defense dependents schools. Nearly 4 million youngsters began the effort to reach the national competition.
There has been one national champion from Minnesota. Nathan Cornelius, a home-schooled seventh-grader from the southwestern Minnesota town of Cottonwood, took the honors in 2005.