Collettsville's Colten Greer finished 9th in state geographic bee

Apr. 12, 2013 @ 08:04 AM

Colten Greer can tell you anything you want to know about Bangladesh – or its capital, Dhaka, or the Ganges River, which flows through it.

He can also tell you about the Netherlands, or Russia, or Israel, or just about any place you could find on a map.

Greer, a Collettsville School sixth-grader, made his second visit to the state Geographic Bee April 5 – and this time around, he brought finished in ninth place.

One-hundred students competed in the bee. And geographic bees don’t work exactly like the spelling bee circuit – in which the winners of each school's spelling bee compete in a county bee, then all the county winners go to the state competition. To earn a trip to the state geographic bee, you have to win your school’s bee, then take a test, and then only the top 100 scorers overall compete at the state level.

The bee itself is no joke, either.

“The questions are crazy,” said Colten’s mom, Alena Greer. “It’s not just general-knowledge stuff.”

Colten will admit he was nervous before the bee. His dad will tell you the story a little more colorfully.

“He told me he was about to throw up,” said James Greer, a Marine sergeant and a Lenoir firefighter.

But Colten nailed it.

He made it to the final round, easily firing off answers his parents couldn’t believe he knew. 

“We just looked at each other and shook our heads,” Alena Greer said.

At first, Colten’s interest in geography seemed like a passing phase. He sifted through quite a few of those in his early years, his mom said. At one point, when he was still just a baby, he harbored a passing but fervent fascination with ceiling fans.

But the geography “phase” started in third grade and hasn’t faded yet.

Specifically, Colten loves maps. They’re all over his room. One year, he asked for only one Christmas gift: as many maps as he could get.

“It’s interesting to see the shapes of countries and the physical features of it,” he said. “I think it’s pretty cool.”

But Colten is a (miniature) man of many interests. He also plays Collettsville Ruritan baseball, and he knows more Bible trivia than some pastors.

When it comes to the years ahead, Colten has a plan, in this order: First, five years at the Caldwell Early College. Then the University of Alabama, to major in physics. Then the Marine Corps – like his dad – and then he wants to be a missionary.

But in the more immediate future, he’s ready for the 2014 Geographic Bee.

Ask him if he’s going to win, and he’ll tell you: “Probably.”

He’s got it all mapped out.