By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
Marching Highlanders director Brad Milleman had a strong feeling Anderson would be in the top five at the State Fair Band Day Friday.
With the performance they had in the morning and evening, he said, his students definitely deserved it.
Milleman was right.
The Marching Highlanders did earn a spot in the top five, fourth to be exact.
"They did their best," he said. "That's when it really counts."
And they did so with a lot of young marchers, he added.
In first place was Winchester Community High School where former Anderson director Doug Fletcher now serves.
It was a successful day for Anderson.
The Anderson Marching Highlanders slayed themselves enough metaphorical dragons to once again land a spot in the Sweet 16 competition this year at the Indiana State Fair Band Day.
The band performed “Dragons of Legend” with a 60-foot dragon prop and the music of Dreamworks’ “How to Train Your Dragon.”
“The kids did a fantastic job,” director Brad Milleman said. “I couldn’t ask more of them.”
The Frankton Marching Eagles and the Elwood Marching Panthers came close to making the cut, finishing 19th and 17th, respectively.
The Lapel Marching Bulldogs also performed during the day’s preliminaries, along with 40 other schools from around the state.
Anderson drum major Connor Oleksy said he left the track Friday morning with the same feeling he had as a freshman, when the Highlanders placed first in the Sweet 16.
“It was a really great run through,” he said. “The music was spot on. The tempos were together, were there. It was a great feeling.”
He said the band’s performance has been a great start to his senior year, but that he’d like to leave his last year of marching band the way he started it. With a championship title. The band placed eighth place last year.
Like Madison County’s other bands, Oleksy said Anderson has worked really hard and spent a lot of hours together.
Elwood, performing “A Man Apart” with a 007 theme, had a lot of new blood this year -- 26 of 50 were new marchers.
But Director Paula Simmons said they were “balanced and musical” and did a good job.
Having made the Sweet 16 for the first time last year, she added that they would have loved to made it again this year.
“Obviously that’s what every band wants...” Simmons said. “Our goal is to get in the top 25.”
The ultimate goal, she added, was to come off that field feeling good. Another goal accomplished. Plus, she added, “the future looks bright.”
“This year’s band had way more energy,” said Sage Schiffner, a trumpet player for the Marching Panthers, adding he expects an even stronger band next year.
Frankton Band Director James Handshoe said he felt his kids had a “very good, solid” performance out on the track.
While the band placed 13th last year, the majority of the Marching Eagles this year are first or second time marchers, a young group, he added, that has next year to look forward to.
“I honestly think we did really well,” said Amanda Kilgore, a Frankton guard member. “Even better than I thought we would.”
Frankton did receive the auxiliary award in Class A.
While Lapel didn’t make it into the Top 25, director Gregory Scott’s philosophy is to entertain the audience.
“We’re not playing for the judges,” Colton Allen, a Lapel trombone player, said. “We’re playing for the crowd.”
With lots of dancing and a lover’s spat acted out by a saxophone player and guard girl, the band seemed to do just that with loud cheers from the audience.
“I’m just very pleased with their performance,” Scott said. “I’m pleased they’re pleased and pleased the audience enjoyed the performance.”
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