Lars Andersen’s journey at the 2017 South Dakota National Geographic State Bee took him to eighth place. Lars is an eighth-grader at Milbank Middle... Andersen and Kruger Compete at State National Geographic Bee

Lars Andersen’s journey at the 2017 South Dakota National Geographic State Bee took him to eighth place. Lars is an eighth-grader at Milbank Middle School. Fifth-grader Maggie Kruger represented St. Lawrence School. The contest was held on the campus of Northern State University in Aberdeen.

In the eight-question opening round, Lars answered seven of eight questions correctly to advance to the finals. “I think I had a lucky draw,” he said. “The only question I got wrong in that round was something about stargazing and Zion National Park.”

According to Lars, the final, double elimination round was more challenging. “There were fill-in-the-blank questions instead of just multiple choice. The question I went out on was where Cape Canaveral is located. I mixed that up with Corpus Christi.”

The finals took place in a large auditorium on a stage with the 10 finalists. “The audience didn’t bother me a bit. I have been in front of large audiences before during my 6th grade spelling bee, oral interp, and sporting events,” he said. “So I wasn’t nervous at all.”

This was the first time Maggie had participated in a contest of this magnitude. “It was very stressful, but the big auditorium where the finals were held was really cool,” she said. Nancy Kruger, her mother, said, “I could tell Maggie, and all the kids, were really stressed during the competition.”

In the opening, eight-question round, Maggie answered two of the eight questions correctly. The first round consisted of multiple choice questions on topics such as countries, continents, oceans, and animals. “The questions about the states were the easiest,” Maggie said.

“They don’t give normal geography questions like you might expect,” Nancy commented. “They tend to add a twist so the students have to analyze and think about things before they answer.” The students were given just 15 seconds to answer and could ask to have the question repeated or a word spelled just twice during the round. “I didn’t use any interruptions at all,” Maggie said. “We could also pass on a question, but then it was counted wrong, so mostly everybody gave a guess on every question.” The top 10 students advanced to the finals.

“Maggie has a very good memory,” Nancy said. “She can read something once and remember it. As a young child, Maggie had a big puzzle of the United States she would put together over and over, so she got to know the states and their capitals really well. Maggie’s favorite subject is history, but she also enjoys reading and learning about animals.”Despite not qualifying for the final round, Maggie said, “I definitely want to do it again!”

Lars also says his favorite subject in school is history. His father, the late Ed Andersen, passed down his interest to him. “My dad always liked history and maps.” he said. Lars’ mother, Dr. Susan Andersen, said Ed bought a large black and white map which the family framed and hung in their living room. “Ed was always pointing things out to Lars on that map and explaining and showing him different things.”

Lars prepared for the state bee using the National Geographic Bee app that he downloaded on his smart phone. “I should have studied a lot more than I did,” he said, “but I discovered that the app needs to be updated. They don’t even have South Sudan included.” For those who are unaware, South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011.

Lars’ dad also took him along on debate trips when he was assistant coach under Doug Tschetter. “I went to everything and he taught me things every step of the way,” Lars said. “One thing I learned quickly was to never say I was bored, because then my dad would come up with some way to make me learn something.”

Lars is currently active in middle school oral interp, band, choir, football, wrestling, and track. He plans to add debate to the list once he enters high school. In his spare time, he says, “I am a competitive sleeper, and I like to read and watch Netflix.”

Staff Writer

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