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PROVO STUDENT WILL REPRESENT UTAH IN U.S. GEOGRAPHY BEE

Robert Ricks, a 14-year-old student at Meridian School in Provo, is the winner of Utah's 1992 Geography Bee.

As a result of his win on Friday, Ricks will go on to represent Utah in the national competition to be held May 20-21, in Washington, D.C."I was sort of scared when I missed a question about the Southern Alps in New Zealand," Ricks said. But each contestant was only eliminated after their second incorrect answer. Ricks was able to hold on and answer every other question correctly.

But it wasn't easy. Ricks competed against fourth- through eighth-grade students statewide and barely nudged out second place winner, David McVey from Spanish Fork Intermediate School, after McVey failed to identify the purpose of qanats.

Qanats - pronounced KANahtz - are an ancient system of tunnels used for irrigation in Iran.

Ricks finished the final round when he correctly identified Lake Nasser as the Egyptian lake that is filling up with silt because of construction of the Aswan High Dam.

Then again, Ricks did have a slight advantage. Ricks' father, Stephen Ricks, is professor of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young University, and Ricks' family lived in Israel while Stephen Ricks earned his doctorate degree at Hebrew University.

"But I was only 1 or 2 years old when we lived there," Ricks said.

Other prizes Ricks received include $100 for first place, three free days rental of a motor home, a world atlas and a free video game named "Carmen San Diego" that Ricks will probably donate to his school.

"We already have three copies at home," he said.

Second place received $75 and third received $50.

If Ricks goes on to win at the national competition, he will receive $25,000 that will be placed in escrow until he attends college, which should be some time in 1996.