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Marching Cougars finish 5th at state

Marching Cougars finish 5th at state
Marching Cougars finish 5th at state
The North Harrison Marching Cougars perform their show, “Bees,” for the final time Saturday at state finals. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]

The North Harrison Marching Cougars had not advanced to the Indiana State School Music Association state competition since 2012, with the show “The Grind.” The group came home from the state marching band finals with a ninth-place trophy besting one other band.

That concluded a strong ISSMA showing that began in 1997 (“Legend of the Four Chaplains: The Light Eternal”) with a sixth-place finish followed by finishing second just three-tenths of a point behind the first-place band in 1998 (“Volcano: Nature’s Inferno”) and first place both in 1999 (“Tribal Ritual”) and 2000 (“Join Together”).

The Marching Cougars’ streak continued with trips in 2001 (“Medal of Honor,” sixth), 2002 (“Rise and Fall of Rome,” sixth), 2003 (“Cleopatra disCOVERed,” fourth), 2004 (“Treasure Island,” fourth), 2005 (“Luna-Sol,” seventh) and 2006 (“Linearism: The Shape of Things,” fifth). They returned in 2011 and placed sixth with “When You Tell Their Story.”

COVID-19 canceled last year’s ISSMA marching band contests, but they returned this year.

Jennifer Gordon, who was named the band director in 2020, opted to have her group compete in the Scholastic division this year rather than the Open Class due to the band’s size: 32 members.

With their show “Bees,” the Marching Cougars buzzed their way to state finals on Saturday, competing against 13 other bands in Scholastic B. The first band, Danville Community, kicked off the contest at 11 a.m. on the Coach Chuck Stephens Field at Franklin Central High School on Indianapolis’ south side. Shortly after the last band, Eastern (Pekin), performed at 2:02 p.m., the announcement of the Top 5 was made.

The Marching Cougars filled the fifth-place spot. Joining them were Maconaquah, first; Washington, second; Heritage Hills, third; and Indian Creek, fourth.

“I am beyond proud of this band,” said Gordon. “They were a young group this year, with over half the band being middle schoolers. We had a strong group of seniors that helped lead the band though, and those seniors have set the younger kids up to continue this success in the future.”

Soloists were Paul Hendrick (violin), Nathan Weston (clarinet), Lilly Hill (trumpet) and Andrew Swartz (tuba), who also was the group’s field commander.

The show had four movements (with musical selections): the bees are waking up and getting ready to work (“Morning” from Peer Gynt Suite by Greig); the bees get to work (“Flight of the Bumblebee” by Rimsky-Korsakov); the bees slow down a bit in mid-day to appreciate the beauty of the flowers they pollinate (“Flower Duet” from Lakmé by Delibes); and the bees celebrate a hard day’s work and go back to sleep (“Bees” from the Garden Suite by Standridge).

“I am very pleased with the results of the contest,” said Gordon. “It was a joy to simply make finals for the first time in nine years, and it was the cherry on top to finish in fifth place out of 14 bands. The future is most certainly bright for the Cougar Band.”

Other bands in Scholastic B were Northeast Dubois, Evansville Reitz Memorial, Manchester, Pike Central, Wawasee, Bluffton and Salem.

Staff for the Marching Cougars included Matthew Neville (music arranger and percussion teacher), Scott Carr (drill writer), Izzy Peake, Sydney Troncin and Becca Luhrsen (guard instructors) and Griffin Webster (winds and visual).

Student section captains this season were Zadie Hill (guard), Nathan Weston (woodwinds), Lily Hill (brass) and KJ Benkowski (percussion).

“The run at finals was probably the best of the season, which is how we like to end things,” said Gordon. “The kids performed their hearts out and gave their absolute best.”

The Marching Cougars plan to participate in Saturday evening’s Halloween parade in downtown Corydon.