Emerald Regiment takes fifth in first competition

Alyssa Sykuta

Senior Grant Flakne and others form the pit percussion section of the Emerald Regiment. The pit commanded a central role in Friday's performance at the Providence Bowl. Photo by Asa Lory
After an early morning and two-hour bus ride Saturday, Sept. 22, the members of the Emerald Regiment huddled in their instrument sections, praying, wishing each other good luck and mumbling to each other, “Don’t mess up, guys.”
At 2:30 p.m., the band marched onto the football field of St. Charles West High School to perform its 2012 field show “…To be free” in preliminary competition.
Even though it was the first competition of the season, assistant band director Bob Thalhuber was confident in the Emerald Regiment’s abilities. Thalhuber and band director Steve Mathews were set on making the cut for finals competition that night.
“I think potentially the band could always do very, very well,” Thalhuber said. “”If [the students] execute at the best they’ve done on the rehearsal field, the best run, I think that we would do fairly well. It also depends on judges; it’s subjective. But what matters is we want to come off the field and we want to feel good about it.”
After performing a near seven-minute show in prelims, the band’s enthusiasm and sentiment was promising. Several members, including  junior Daniel Shapiro, said the run through had been their best yet.  Mathews agreed, rounding the band up and reviewing the show as being an overall success.
At 5 p.m. drum majors Maggie Washer and Alyssa Sykuta marched onto the track for preliminary awards. After not receiving any caption awards, the Emerald Regiment did end up winning second place in their division and securing a spot in finals competition with a fifth place ranking overall. This meant the band would perform once more in front of a panel of judges at 8 p.m.
After a few hours to relax and watch other bands’ field shows, the Emerald Regiment turned their game faces back on. Now in direct competition with Hickman High School’s marching band, determination drove everyone to put out a stronger show. HHS band members had also sent an “airgram” over the loud speakers to RBHS during prelims referring to the Providence Bowl the night before, simply stating, “Hickman: 22, Rock Bridge: 21.” The airgram angered many band members, including sophomore Maddie Wilhite, driving them to push themselves even harder during finals.
“Hickman brought the competition to a whole new level,” Wilhite said. “Because we started in different classes, it wasn’t that big a deal. Then when they made it to finals, everyone was like, ‘It’s on!’ and we all stepped up and we did a lot better in finals than prelims and I think Hickman had a lot to do with that.”
As the drum majors from the 10 finals  competitors marched out once again onto the track at 10 p.m., the crowd fell silent. Slowly but surely, the announcer in the press box announced the rankings of the bands, from the non-award-winning tenth place up through the much longed after first place trophy. In the end, the RBHS Emerald Regiment beat out Hickman’s band, which placed ninth in the finals, with a fifth place standing. The Bruins came home with a shiny gold and red trophy to show for their effort and diligence.
“I am just really proud of how we performed,” Washer said. “The energy was so positive throughout the band and it made it a really fun experience.”
Though the band still has a good chunk of their show to learn before all of it will be under their belt, Thalhuber believes they are clipping along at a solid pace and hopes to have the rest of their field show learned by their next competition at Lafayette Saturday, Sept. 29.
“Every show is different so it’s difficult to compare how far it is. But we are progressing at a rate that is good,” Thalhuber said. “I think we’re definitely on track to completing the show in a timely manner and being able to represent Rock Bridge well in competitions.”
By Alyssa Sykuta