Eleven-year-old Matthew Coyle of Mount Airy became the second-youngest student to qualify for the sixth annual national geography bee in Washington, and he was the youngest to reach yesterday's final round.
The event, sponsored by the National Geographic Society and Amtrak, started Tuesday with 57 state and U.S. territory winners, with the top 10 returning for yesterday's finals.
The Winfield Elementary fifth-grader was eliminated in a round featuring hats of the world.
"Hats like this one are worn by palace guards in one of the world's ancient cities," moderator Alex Trebek of "Jeopardy" fame said as a youngster walked onstage wearing a red skullcap with a long brown tassel. "Name this city, which is the southernmost capital on the mainland of Europe."
Matthew guessed Madrid. The right answer was Athens.
Matthew is the son of Richard J. and Melissa Coyle of Mount Airy.
He was the second Mount Airy-area contestant to reach the nationals in the past three years. In 1992, Patrick Jacobs won the statewide championship and competed at the national contest in Washington.
Patrick, at the time a sixth-grader seventh-grader at the McDonogh School in Randallstown, lives in Mount Airy and is the son of Van and Patricia Jacobs of Mapleville Road.
Anders Knospe, 14, of Bozeman, Mont., walked away with the $25,000 top prize yesterday, and Michael Bebow, 14, of Metairie, La., was second, earning $15,000.