Posted by William Nunnelley on 2010-04-09

James Niiler, a sixth grade student at Rock Quarry Middle School in Tuscaloosa, won first place in the State Geographic Bee at Samford University Friday, April 9.

Niiler correctly answered the “Red Sea” to the question, “Jeddah is the port of the holy city of Mecca and is located on what body of water?” in the final round.

He received an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to represent Alabama in the national finals May 25-26, as well as a National Geographic Collegiate Atlas of the World and a $100 cash prize. He is the son of Luke and Sandy Niiler of Tuscaloosa.

Ben Powell, a sixth grader from Tuscaloosa Home Educators School in Tuscaloosa, finished second. The son of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Powell received an atlas and $75.

Daniel Picard, a fifth grader from Riverchase Elementary School in Hoover, was third. The son of Lee and Michele Picard received an atlas and $50.

Alabama’s top 100 geography students, all in grades four through eight, competed in Friday’s event. The competitors had 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 National Geographic Society.