Cache County high schools used brightly colored capes, spaceships and the memory of heroes to sweep the competition at the Utah Red Rocks State Marching Band Championships on Friday.
Leading the fleet in the 4A open division, Green Canyon High School won first place. They were followed by Mountain Crest High School in second and Sky View High School close behind in third.
“Winning first place all year long was great, but we were still working on things and perfecting our performance,” said Randall Beach, the band director at GCHS. “And what I was really proud of is that they just kept working really hard to get better and better. Then to see it all come together perfectly on the very last performance was just awesome.”
State championships are organized slightly differently every year. This year order and division classification were organized by school size rather than band size. Ridgeline High School, being a smaller school than the other three schools, competed in the 4A scholastic division.
“The day of championships is such an exciting day,” said Jeremy Wells, band director at RHS. “It is full of energy and creates a neat opportunity to cheer on all of the schools in the state.”
That camaraderie is a big part of the magic of this event, said Bryan Carpenter, band director at SVHS. He said cheers erupted from his students when GCHS won first place and just seemed to grow with enthusiasm when each of the Cache County schools were announced.
“It has been so neat to watch the growth of our band,” said Joel Yoder, the band director at MCHS. Now with 75 students in the band, they have doubled in size since RHS opened four years ago.
“To see them compete at this level is exciting for me and the students,” Yodel said. “The unique thing about marching band is that we spend so much time on one 7-minute performance, so to see all that hard work come together is a special moment.”
Month after month the directors and staff work to create the performances and bring them to life. After the theme is decided, the drill is written, original scores for each movement are composed and the students begin practicing.
“Voice of the tribe” was the theme that RHS worked into their performance, based on Amazon tribes and jungle sounds. SVHS took to the field in the shape of constellations and used a fire-extinguisher-powered rocketship in tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. MCHS followed up with characteristics of heroes, and GCHS finished off the segment with the sounds of Africa, topped off with authentic African drums and patterned capes.
Carpenter said number of band members makes a difference at events like this one because more students means a bigger sound and better visuals. These four schools used to be just two, and now all of them are adjusting to their smaller bands and new classifications.
Cache County School District Superintendent Steven Norton said all four schools are well on their way to having big bands again.
“We have a long tradition of great marching bands here in the valley,” Norton said. “It is special to see that tradition upheld by great, hard-working students.”