Utahn dedicates days to Bible study, hopes to win $100,000 at national competition

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BOUNTIFUL, Utah -- An 18-year-old from Bountiful spends about 15 hours a day preparing for the National Bible Bee Competition.

The event requires memorization and a solid understanding of the "Good Book."

“The goal is to get through at least 20 passages in 10 minutes,” Tia Thomas said.

Thomas spent the last year memorizing more than 1,000 Bible verses. For four years in a row, she's made it the nationals, but never past the preliminaries.

“I'm studying all the free time I have,” she said. “From the time I wake up until I go to bed.”

Tia took a semester off of school at Brigham Young University  to practice. The Bible Bee covers passage memorization and administers a 200-question written test.

From the beginning it seemed like a questionable decision to postpone her life.

“My friends, one especially, can't understand why I left school and a job and everything to do this. I'm hoping if I win he'll understand,” Thomas said.

And if that happens, she said, they'll be eating their words.

“For first prize in my division there's $100,000,” she said.

The competition is in 10 days, and Thomas said she’ll be cramming from now until then.