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Texas eighth-grader wins National Geographic Bee

Wed., May 17, 2017, 11:58 a.m.

President Gary Knell, left, and host Mo Rocca, right, congratulates the winner of the 2017 National Geographic Bee, from second from left, third place winner Veda Bhattaram, 13, of Montville, N.J., second place winner Thomas Wright, 14, of Milwaukee, Wis., and first place winner Pranay Varada, 14, of Carrollton, Texas, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, at the National Geographic Society in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)
President Gary Knell, left, and host Mo Rocca, right, congratulates the winner of the 2017 National Geographic Bee, from second from left, third place winner Veda Bhattaram, 13, of Montville, N.J., second place winner Thomas Wright, 14, of Milwaukee, Wis., and first place winner Pranay Varada, 14, of Carrollton, Texas, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, at the National Geographic Society in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON – A 14-year-old eighth-grader from Texas with an impressive knowledge of rivers, mountain ranges, borders and cultures has won this year’s National Geographic Bee.

Pranay Varada of Irving, Texas, won Tuesday after a tense contest against another 14-year-old, Thomas Wright, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Both answered five championship-round questions correctly, moving the bee into a sudden-death tiebreaker. Pranay won by correctly identifying the Kunlun mountains, a 1,200-mile range along the Tibetan plateau.

Pranay, who goes to school in Carrolton, Texas, was a veteran geography bee competitor who finished in sixth place last year. He won a $50,000 scholarship, a trip to the Galapagos Islands and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.

Pranay’s mother was in tears, saying he worked all year to return for a win.