Championship Reprise

Ariana van den Akker/The Herald
The Forest Park color guard reacted to the Marching Rangers being named the Class D state champions at the Indiana State School Music Association state marching band finals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday. The Marching Rangers claimed the title for the second year in a row. More photos from the contest are here.

Herald Staff Writer

INDIANAPOLIS —Forest Park Marching Rangers drum majors Travis Vonderheide and Alyssa Hurm locked arms to down a ceremonial bottle of milk after winning Class D of the Indiana State School Music Association marching band state finals contest for the second consecutive year Saturday.

The crowd whistled and cheered as the band left the Lucas Oil Stadium field with the trophy, but it was nothing compared to the joyous noise that the Marching Rangers made as they jumped and hugged their way to the parking lot.

Color guard members Tiffany Singer, a senior, Emily Schipp, a junior, and Emma Uebelhor, an eighth-grader, shared a series of hugs and laughs outside. Singer said the win was a perfect ending to a season filled with several disappointing finishes at the early contests.

“We came either in second or third place all season,” she said, adding that she and her friends began “crying tears of joy” when the name of the second-place band was announced and they realized they had won it all.

Only an hour earlier, emotions were high as the band members tuned their instruments in a practice room behind the field.

“It’s been a great season,” Band Director Chad Gayso told his students. “You’ve got one last shot! You’ve got to be smart and you’ve got to be emotional.”

Ariana van den Akker/The Herald
Forest Park juniors Taylor Leinenbach, middle, and Sierra Voegerl smiled at each other as fellow bandmates hugged on the field right before performing at the Indiana State School Music Association state marching band finals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday.

He didn’t have to say it twice, as tears already shone on the faces of several students while they waited to begin.

The band took the field last in Class D with the show “PowerHouse.” The prop-heavy performance featured a circular tarp, colored flags, an enormous battery, smaller wooden batteries and neon green lightning bolts and ropes. Gayso said adding so many elements to a show can be stressful, as time is limited for arranging everything on the field and removing it after the performance.

“It’s just kind of a gamble that you take when you decide to do a show like that because any number of things can go wrong, but when it all works, it really pays off,” he said.

After the show, Gayso gave a speech from the back of a truck trailer. He reminded the band members that this is the eighth year in a row the school has placed in the top three in the state. He thanked the parents, band and color guard for their hard work.

“You guys are the best people in the world,” he said.

Senior Elizabeth Fleck, a bass drum player who has been performing in the band since eighth grade, could not stop smiling as she prepared to board the bus back to Ferdinand.

“It’s better than you can imagine,” she said.

Rounding out the top 10 in Class D, in order of placement, were Springs Valley, Paoli, Lewis Cass (Walton), Monrovia and Adams Central (Monroe) tied, Evansville Mater Dei, South Spencer, Eastern (Greentown) and Orleans.

Jasper places fourth

Earlier in the day, cheers of “Let’s go!” and “We can do it!” rang out from a warm-up room as the Jasper High School Marching Wildcats prepared to take the field. It was that spirit that propelled students to a fourth-place finish in Class B.

“We thought we had a good run,” Band Director James Goodhue said after the awards ceremony. “Our show went well.”

Ariana van den Akker/The Herald
Jasper seniors Olivia June, left, and Avery Charron hugged as fellow drum major and senior Courtney Hayden smiled after performing Saturday. Jasper placed fourth in Class B. More photos from the contest are here.

Band members and drum majors agreed that their performance of the show, “Angelic Voices,” was among the best of their careers. Drum majors and seniors Avery Charron and Olivia June exchanged a tearful hug as they left the field. Charron said the completion of her final high school band performance made her cry for several reasons.

“We had such a remarkable season last year, just to be back and giving as good of a show as we just did, it’s awesome,” she said, referring to Jasper’s first-place finish at the 2012 finals. “I think we did the best show that we could have done. We’re very, very proud of it. We spent a lot of time working these last few weeks on little details and I think they came together.”

Saturday was the first time the band performed on the complete tarp, which was shaped like an angel. Senior baritone player Savannah Hurst said the Marching Wildcats had played on a partial tarp several times this season, but the state contest marked the first time she was perfectly confident in the results.

“We nailed it this time,” she said as she sipped on milk provided by event sponsor Indiana Dairy Farmers while waiting for the awards ceremony to begin. Hurst and her bandmates left Jasper at 4:15 a.m., but she said adrenaline kept them awake and alert.

“Every year at state, you march your best show, but every year is even better than the last,” Hurst said. “This is the best show I’ve ever performed in my career.”

Goodhue said he knew many of the students were disappointed with a fourth-place finish after last year’s win, but the competition is strong year after year.

“The top groups have kind of been the same groups forever. We place ahead of them sometimes,” he said. “The kids did great, so I can’t really complain. We gave it our best. Maybe if we went back and did it again with a different set of judges, who knows.”

Greenwood High School placed first in Class B followed by Concord (Elkhart) and Northview (Brazil) in second and third place, respectively. Rounding out the top 10 were Plainfield, Floyd Central, DeKalb (Waterloo), Munster, New Castle and Plymouth.

Contact Claire Moorman at

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