The pressure was on.
Cooperstown Central School seventh-grader Tommy Knight had won his school district’s fifth-and-sixth-grade geography bee the past two years, but this year, he was on a bigger stage competing in the middle school competition.
“I think I put the most pressure on myself,” Tommy said Tuesday after he was declared the champion.
Nerves played more of a factor this year, according to Tommy, because the stage and audience were bigger than when he competed in elementary school.
“Being here, using the whole auditorium, with the lights and three judges, it was a little bit of an experience,” he said.
Tommy said he studied hard to prepare for competition, which included 10 finalists who earned their seats after competing in a preliminary geo bee.
“I knew if there was pressure last year (people wanting him to pull a repeat win) there would be more this time around, “ he said.
Tommy was named a finalist after the eighth round because he was the only competitor not to miss a single question. Charles Gannon, Reilly Hall and Pierce Snyder then had to face off to see who would compete in the championship round. Pierce won that battle, but was defeated by Tommy, who answered all three final questions correctly. Pierce missed two.
Social studies teacher John Brotherton said he was not surprised Tommy won because he is a superior student in terms of geography knowledge.
“Of course I am happy for him. There was some pretty good competition for him though,” he said. “Pierce Snyder, who got second place, is also an outstanding student. Tommy is not your typical student — he has a broad knowledge and has a passion for it.”
Tommy said he went into the competition feeling confident because he had studied a lot and put in the work.