Preliminary rounds of Saturday’s Mid-States Band Association competition in Mason, Ohio, got off to a slower-than-expected start for Columbus East.
Sixth place out of 13 bands in the Class AAA division was less than Olympian Spirit Marching Band band members expected of themselves at the end of a season that saw them consistently excel.
But the 69-member band rose to the occasion, turning in its best performance of the season and leapfrogging two places in the finals that evening.
“It felt good to finish in fourth place,” drum major Zach Fischer said. “It proved that we’re a good band that has the ability.”
East Band Director David Rodgers said his bands began competing in the Mid-States Band competition six years ago after he realized the group was too small to have any real chance of doing well at the Indiana State School Music Association competition, which conducted its state championship the same day.
The East High School marching band competed in some ISSMA competitions this year but never with the intention of carrying through past the regional competition, even if it qualified.
Rodgers said his problem with the ISSMA is that it groups bands into classes based on the student populations of the schools they represent. He decided that East, with a proportionally small band, would be better off competing in the Mid-States circuit, which bases its division categories on the number of students in the band.
The Mid-States Band competition is for bands in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. Class AAA, in which the East marchers competed, was for bands with 51 to 70 members.
Anderson County High School of Lawrenceburg, Ky., took first place in that division.
Sarada Davis, a junior and captain of the East color guard, said she found it especially rewarding to leapfrog over the Bedford North Lawrence marching band, which had beaten East by a fraction of a point in the preliminary round.
Devin Clausen, a sophomore baritone player, said his band’s fourth-place finish in the finals was a perfect cap to an exciting day that gave him an adrenaline rush each time the crowd rose to its feet during a pivotal moment in the performance.
“As soon as they announced the fifth-place team and it wasn’t us, we started to get really excited,” said Clausen, who knew at that moment the East band would be moving up the ladder.
Its season began in May, when the marching band started rehearsing a routine written by Rodgers and a team of adult assistants.
The routine, “YESterday-YEStoday,” incorporated music from the classic rock band YES with a story line that captured the passage of time that saw band members grow from young children to maturing musicians.
Adult band boosters helped build the props, which included makeshift picture frames to highlight the band on the field.
Rodgers said his marching band has qualified for the Mid- States Band finals the past five out of six years that it has participated and placed in the top five each year.
“They all work very hard, put in countless hours of rehearsal, and they deserve recognition for their outstanding accomplishments,” Rodgers said about the band members. “It’s been a great year.”
A year of success
Columbus East High School’s Olympian Spirit Marching Band has done well in competitions throughout the school year.
Columbus North High School invitational: First place in Class AAA. Awarded top honors for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Percussion.
ISSMA district competition: Gold Division rating for 12th consecutive year. Gold is highest rating a band can receive.
ISSMA Regional Marching Band Festival: Gold Division rating.
Colerain High School Mid-States Marching Band Festival: Second place in Class AAA preliminaries; first place in the finals and third among all classes.