Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2007-04-03

Matthew Riggle, a seventh grade student at St. John's Catholic School, Madison, won top honors at the Geographic Bee state finals at Samford University Friday, March 30.

Riggle bested 99 other competitors from schools in 24 counties to claim the title. Each qualified for the event after winning contests in their schools and placing among the top 100 scorers in the state on a test administered by the National Geographic Society.

Riggle will represent Alabama at the National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C. in late May. The event involves students in grades four through eight.

As state champion, Riggle won a $100 cash prize, a National Geographic globe and an all-expenses paid trip to the national finals, at which the top prize is a $50,000 scholarship. He is the son of Elizabeth and Robert Riggle.

To win the state title, he successfully answered the question: Jin Mao Tower, which has the highest hotel rooms in the world, is located in the Pudong district in which East Asian city? His correct answer: Shanghai.

Runners-up were Tyler Jones, a student at Cullman Middle School, second place; and Rohit Borah, a student at Riverhill School, Florence, third place.

The contest is designed to spark student interest in geography and increase public awareness about the subject. The championship round of the National Geographic Bee on May 23 will air nationally on the National Geographic Channel, and will be broadcast later on public television stations.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.