On Saturday, the Hayes High School Grand Pacer Marching Band earned a ‘Superior’ rating at the OMEA state finals.
The Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) state competition was held at Hilliard Bradley High School and featured performances from 42 bands.
The Hayes band performed at 2:45 p.m., and during the 3:30 awards ceremony, members learned the group had received a “1” or “Superior” rating.
Director Andy Doherty said he was extremely proud of the band given it’s only the third time in its history the band has earned the top rating at state finals.
“I feel really great,” he said. “They are a really special group. It’s nice for them to get recognition on the biggest stage possible. They definitely earned it.”
The band returned to the high school Saturday afternoon to cheers, cowbells, and car horns as parents and community members hailed their return.
The competition was the last competition of the season, and one of the last events for the marching band this year.
Saxophone player and senior Zane Hardison said the day was bittersweet.
“I’m just glad we left off on a great note,” he said. “But I’m a little bit upset. This is officially it. I’m going to miss the people.”
Senior Brittany Green, a member of the color guard, said the competition was tough but worthwhile.
“It’s very emotional,” she said. “I was a little nervous, because it was really cold and really windy. The wind really puts a toll on the guard, especially, but we pushed through and it was one of our best performances of the season.”
Bass drummer and senior Tom Henson said the “Superior” rating fit the band this year.
“It’s definitely a good reflection of the season and shows we are getting better and better every year,” he said. “(Superior ratings) aren’t given, it’s earned. My sophomore year we got a ‘1,’ and I saw that kind of same group this year. (The underclassmen) have a lot of potential and took everything head on.”
Henson said he’s not happy that the band season is effectively over, but he’s making the best of it.
“It does suck, but I’ve got to prepare myself,” he said. “It’s going to end sometime, and I’ve got to make the most of it. It definitely feels good and I know looking back that it’s going to feel great. We had a great season, a great group of people, and a family atmosphere.”
Hunter Pollock, a junior clarinet and oboe player, said Saturday he was glad the season ended on a high note.
“It was very affirming to see all the hard work we put in pay off,” he said. “You have moments of doubt throughout the season. Maybe a Friday night is bad, but at the end of the season, we pulled through and got a ‘1.’ That lasts forever.”
Brennan Tucker, a senior who plays the marimba in the front ensemble, said he couldn’t contain his excitement at the competition.
“I’ve gotten ones at competitions in years past, but this being my last competition … I couldn’t help myself,” Tucker said. “I screamed in excitement and started hugging people. I’m going to miss my friends. The underclassmen and seniors that I wont be able to see on a regular basis, I’ll miss with all my heart.”
Drum major and senior Lizzy Childers said she “felt fantastic” about the rating.
“This is everything I could have wanted,” Childers said. “I wasn’t nervous. I was confident. It was really great. I love everyone in this band.”
Fellow drum major Hannah Stoll agreed, and adding the rating was “such a rush.”
“It was so cool,” she said. “This is the third time we’ve gotten one, and I’ve been a part of two of them. It’s really exciting and something that will stay with me forever.”
Stoll said that since she’s a junior this year, she’ll be the head drum major next year, adding she’s excited that the band will be taking part in Bands of America competition next year.
“It’s absolutely insane but provides such a big opportunity for us to grow as a band,” Stoll said. “It’s going to be real fun.”
Stoll said she’s looking forward to next year but will miss the current senior class.
“These are the people that I first came into Hayes with,” she said. “They are leaving behind a legacy that will continue for a really long time after.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.