Hocker Grove eighth-grader Wyatt Boyd wins second state championship in geography bee

Wyatt Boyd, an eighth-grader at Hocker Grove Middle, is a two-time state champion of the National Geographic Geobee.

Twice he competed at the National Geographic GeoBee State Competition, and twice he bested every student in the state of Kansas.

For Wyatt Boyd, who is now an eighth-grader at Hocker Grove Middle, it all started with a love of maps. His interest and knowledge base of the countries of the world now covers politics, demographics, culture, languages and economy, to name a few.

“I don’t think I have a photographic memory; I’ve like geography all my life,” Boyd said. “It’s hard to know exactly why, but it really interests me: The cultures and languages and the places.”

To win the state championship both years, he had to answer the most number of questions correctly among 100 students from across Kansas. Last year’s state competition was his first time tapping into his knowledge base.

Unlike last year’s state competition, this year’s questions in the preliminary round were particularly tough.

“I think they were trying to narrow it down quicker,” said Amy Boyd, who nervously watched her son at the competition.

“But it didn’t work,” Wyatt interjected, adding that the sudden death round when they narrowed the round from 19 to three contestants was particularly nerve-wracking. The tie-breaking question: Which dam is on a major tributary on a river northwest of Addis Ababa? There are two major tributaries of the Nile River: The Blue Nile and the White Nile. He answered correctly: the Blue Nile.

The winning question that determined his seat at the national championship: Which island has three countries? (Answer: Borneo)

Amy Boyd said she has always been amazed at her son’s breadth of knowledge. She watched his interest grow since preschool, when he first took an interest in maps.

“It’s so exciting; I’m so proud of him,” she said. “I knew when he was younger that if he could just get to a geography bee, he’s probably win it because his knowledge was so amazing.”

As a state champion, Boyd received a medal, $1,000 in cash and a trip to Washington D.C., to represent the state of Kansas in the National Championship, which takes place May 19-22. Like last year, Boyd plans to return to D.C. for the national competition.

While it’s still a little early in his life to decide what he wants to do when he finishes school, Boyd hopes to continue traveling; he’s already visited Europe, including Ireland and a few Nordic countries. He particularly enjoys icy countries, especially Iceland and northern Canada.