Gold rating pushes Jeeps band to state

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Northeast Dubois High School senior Austin Palmer looks at fellow band members as they cheer before performing during Saturday's ISSMA Marching Band Scholastic Prelims and Open Class Invitational at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium in Jasper. See more photos of Northeast Dubois here.

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — Before the Northeast Dubois Marching Jeeps began what could have been their final performance of the season, Ayane Mundy nervously climbed up the drum major’s podium and saw the band’s season flash before her eyes.

In each of the three previous years, the Jeeps had left the Indiana State School Music Association Scholastic Prelims contest at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium with a ticket to the class’ finals contest in suburban Indianapolis. Could they do it again?

“Just lots of emotions going on all at once,” Ayane recalled of the moment.

“I was happy that we made it this far ... just the progress they’ve made from the beginning to the end,” she said of the young band’s journey. “And then I thought of all the bad things. What if this goes wrong? What if that goes wrong? But at the end of the day, you just have to leave whatever you can out there and do your best.”

The Jeeps’ best was good enough on Saturday. A gold rating sealed the 24-member band’s return to the class championship. They will perform at 12:05 p.m. in the ISSMA Scholastic Class B Finals at Lawrence Central High School on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Forest Park sophomore Brooke Haug performs during Saturday's ISSMA Marching Band Scholastic Prelims and Open Class Invitational at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium in Jasper. See more photos of Forest Park here.

Band Director David Fox was proud of his band. With many experienced members graduating last year, he knew the kids would need to come together and work hard to continue the school’s recent spree of success. On Saturday morning, they did just that.

“For everything we’ve done in the past week, they made a lot of good fixes and should be really proud of themselves,” he said before the band’s placement was announced. “It’s just a crazy time. They’re super stressed out, and they handled everything like they should have. They did really well.”

Ayane’s father, Jeremy, watched from the stands as his daughter led the Jeeps through their stellar 7-minute performance. Ayane had dreamed of being a drum major since she was in middle school, but she never thought she could swing it.

Dad always saw the leader in her.

“She’s been working on it since she was in sixth, seventh grade,” Jeremy said, fighting back tears. “She loves music. Her mom passed away when she was 9, so it’s a big deal. And her mom loved music, so [it’s] pretty emotional.

Three other Dubois County bands shined in the ISSMA Open Class Invitational on Saturday afternoon in Jasper. The Jasper Marching Wildcats, Southridge Marching Raider Band and Forest Park Marching Rangers all left the Jasper stadium with gold ratings and distinction medallions in the categories of music, visual and effect.

Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Jasper High School freshmen Lacy Huckelby, left, and Kaitlyn Kaeck play during musical warm-ups at Saturday's ISSMA Marching Band Scholastic Prelims and Open Class Invitational at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium in Jasper. See more photos of Jasper here.

The Open Class Invitational doesn’t carry the same do-or-die weight as the Scholastic Prelims contest, but directors do see value in what it offers. For one, the performance is a way for them to show off their routines to big crowds filled with members of their home communities.

Then, there’s also the immense value in the scores the bands receive. Southridge Director Lannie Butler said the annual invitational is a good rehearsal for the coming postseason circuit.

“It kind of gives everybody a practice run,” he said. “If there’s some rule changes, and just everybody kind of [gets] the jitters out the first week. Even though it’s not an official contest to make it to regional, it’s nice to have that practice with the ISSMA rules and the ISSMA format.”

Marlena Sloss/The Herald
The Southridge Marching Raider Band warms up during Saturday's ISSMA Marching Band Scholastic Prelims and Open Class Invitational at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium in Jasper. See more photos of Sourthridge here.

On Saturday, Jasper, Southridge and Forest Park will each compete in regional competitions at Evansville Central High School that will determine whether they move on to the semistate round later this month.

Jasper will perform at 6:30 p.m. CT in Open Class B; Southridge will complete at 11:45 a.m. CT in Open Class D; and Forest Park will run through their show at 12:30 p.m. CT in Open Class D.

The Herald | Marching On



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