By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
INDIANAPOLIS — Some stood quietly, heads bowed in reflection. Others chanted loudly and played games like their own version of bull fighting with people.
Whatever the bands from the Sweet 16 at the 2013 State Fair Band Day were doing Friday evening as they waited for results, it all went silent when the announcer's voice rang out.
And by the end of it, the Anderson Marching Highlanders came out in fourth place, improving on their eighth place finish last year.
"They did their best," Band Director Brad Milleman said. "That's when it really counts."
Milleman had a feeling after the band's morning performance, in the preliminaries with 43 other bands from around the state, that the Highlanders would be a top contender.
And the scores were close, often by less than a point.
While Madison County's other bands did well in the competition, they did not break into the Sweet 16. Frankton finished at 19th, Elwood placed 17th and Lapel was a big crowd pleaser.
Gathered together after their evening performance, Highlanders drum major Collin Pratt told the excited and emotional group that regardless of what the results turned out to be, their performance was the best he'd seen.
Trombone player Tyler Bouse said the Highlanders wanted to be grand champions, but that what mattered most was they felt like they'd performed and done well for themselves.
They did the best they could, he added, with a drill that really pushed them.
With many freshmen in the group, he said, the band had traveled a long way since practices began early in the summer.
"We just kept building and building until we got here," Bouse said.
Milleman said a part of the Highlanders' success was a new visual coach who implemented more dance into the drill and a hard-working, disciplined band and guard.
And they couldn't do it without the parents' support, he added. The Band Boosters raised the budget to $50,000 this year.
Booster President Jennifer Raines said the community makes a lot of what they do possible by making donations.
Backing the kids every step of the way, she added, the boosters were just as excited, if not more nervous, to learn the results as the students were.
"As long as the kids go out and do their best, it doesn't matter where they place," said booster Mary Beth Schoen.
The only direction the Highlanders can go now is up, Bouse said.
Now that the marching band's season is over, Milleman said it's time to keep going and build on that success.
"We just give the kids the best opportunity to succeed and they put in the hard work," he said.
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