They practiced for more than an hour in the cold and sleet, hours before competing for a state title.
Members of bands from Greenwood and Center Grove spent their week polishing every move, every note and every angle on their show to get everything just right.
Directors and students from both marching bands said each gave their best performance at state finals.
And both bands snagged a top five finish at the Indiana State School Music Association Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday. Greenwood’s Marching Woodmen earned third place in Class B. The Marching Trojans of Center Grove High School earned fourth place in Class A.
Forty bands from all across Indiana vied for a state title, with 10 bands in each of four classes determined by school size. Bands had to be among several bands to earn gold ratings at district, regional and semi-state competition to earn a berth to state.
Each judge is different, so, a third place finish for Greenwood was great, since the band performed the way they wanted to, said Logan Fox, a senior snare drum player.
“It is such a subjective activity, there can’t be any hard feelings,” Fox said. “Obviously you want to get first, but if you go out there and do the best run you’ve had all season, it doesn’t really matter.”
Greenwood was edged out of the top by schools in Jasper and Goshen. Center Grove finished behind schools from Avon, Carmel and Fort Wayne.
The Marching Trojans spent the week polishing and changing their show and they placed higher than bands that they hadn’t been able to out-score all season, said Nilofer Rajpurkar, a Center Grove drum major.
Class A had tough competition and Indiana as a whole has great marching bands, so a finish in the top five is something to be proud of, she said.
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Carmel’s performance definitely made them worthy of a state title, Rajpurkar said.
“It’s a tough race to keep up at any point in the season,” she said. “The feeling we had walking off of the field was more important than a number.”
Placings for the top five spots came down to a slim margin in Class B, said John Morse, Greenwood band director.
And their performance Saturday was their best of the season, Morse said.
“We thought it would be close, and it was,” Morse said.
Both bands rehearsed in sleet and cold before their final performance on Saturday.
Neither band was able to do a full run during a final rehearsal Saturday because of the weather, leaving a last full performance for when they would compete for a state championship.
“I told them, your run will be at Lucas Oil Stadium,” said Kevin Schuessler, band director at Center Grove High School.
Greenwood’s band spent the season wracking up top awards in invitationals. Center Grove earned a handful of top two finishes and special awards for music, effect and guard at invitationals this fall.
A band that gives their best performance every time is rare, Morse said.
Typically, bands will digress throughout the season, he said.
Greenwood’s 177 member marching ensemble didn’t.
“It was a complete, steady improvement the whole way through,” Morse said.
Asking a band to be perfect even at rehearsals is unrealistic, Schuessler said.
Center Grove directors concentrated on having their 130 students improve and have their best performance be their last performance, he said.
“It’s about building momentum the whole process, it’s not about having a 10 the whole rehearsal,” Schuessler said.
Both marching bands will end their season this weekend at the Bands of America Grand National Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Practices will remain the same for Greenwood and Center Grove bands as they prepare for their final competition.
Both bands plan to make small tweaks to their shows before they present it for a final time, Schuessler and Morse said.
Although Center Grove performed their best show on Saturday, they can have a better performance in grand nationals, Rajpurkar said.