The Delaware Hayes High School Grand Pacer Marching Band travelled to Lancaster over the weekend and returned with numerous honors: grand champion, best music, best percussion, and best visuals.
Director Andy Doherty said he was very pleased with the band’s performance at the competition and the awards it received.
“We had a really good week of rehearsal,” Doherty said. “The students have been really focused and committed, and working really hard. It was great to get some recognition for the superior work they’ve done.”
Doherty said this year’s marching band is well-balanced and performing at the top of its game.
“We have a really well-balanced band this year from an achievement, performance standpoint,” Doherty said. “All sections of the band are firing on the highest cylinder this year, which has been great. We’re moving really well top-to-bottom, we’re playing really well, and just the way everything is put together with our show design this year, it really does a nice job of showcasing the students talent.”
Doherty said the band has two more competitions before the state finals, including a competition this Saturday at the 33rd annual Meadowbrook Festival of Bands in Byersville. He added the band will be making small tweaks this week, and next week they will work on finishing the show and adding the last 30 seconds of music.
Doherty also praised members of the band, new and old, for their attitude this year.
“We have a great group of leaders and upperclassmen who are setting a good example and taking a lot of ownership and pride in the group, and in their work over the last four years,” Doherty said. “We have a strong group of freshmen and sophomores who, right out of the gate, were really excited to be here and really committed. Between those two groups of upperclassmen building strong foundation and new members buying into culture of the group really just made everything click.”
Percussionist and marimba player Andrew Bourget said percussion felt great after receiving the “Best Percussion” accolade.
“It felt good. It was nice. It was really energetic and high energy,” Bourget, a junior, said. “It felt different from other competitions we’ve had and was better than our rehearsal run.”
Bourget said he’s excited but a little nervous about the next competition after setting such a high bar this past weekend.
“It puts pressure on us, because you have to do better than you were last time,” he said. “You have that expectation that you’ll get better than you already were, which was pretty good.”
Bourget said the percussion received a score of 8.9 out of 10 at the last competition, but it’s been a goal this season to get a 9.0.
Bri Haynes, a senior and flute section leader, said she was thrilled to get grand champion at the show.
“As a senior, this is the first time I’ve gotten grand champion in this marching band,” Haynes said. “This is the third time we’ve ever gotten grand champion, and it was astounding, especially at the second competition of the season.”
Haynes said she’s looking forward to Saturday’s competition and seeing what the band can do.
“We all work very hard,” she said. “This Saturday, I’m hoping we can show how much we have progressed. Just because we got all those awards doesn’t mean we should put our work ethic below us.”
Fellow flute section leader Mandy Lin agreed, adding it felt great to hear the band’s name called out so many times.
“Hearing our name called out five times in a row for awards just gives us a feeling of joy,” Lin said. “Seeing how far we’ve come from the first competition just a couple weeks prior felt insane. It’ll keep us motivated throughout the whole season.”
One of the band’s drum majors, Lizzy Childers, said at the start of the season what she was looking to most was representing the band during awards ceremonies. On Tuesday, she said the feeling was even better than she imagined.
“It felt really good, fantastic!” Childers said. “This week, just hearing your name over and over again (during awards) is a really good feeling knowing all our hard work has paid off.”
Childers said she isn’t nervous at all for the competitions still ahead.
“As long as we keep working like we did last week, we are capable of another win like last week,” she said.
Saturday’s competition is being held at Eugene Capers Football Field in Byesville. Admission is $7, and the Grand Pacer Marching Band will perform after 8 p.m.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.