Two in a row Marching Pioneers claim state championship

By Lori Cathey 

The Gibson County Marching Pioneers added to their trophy case, capturing their second Division I state title in as many seasons Saturday night at Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro.

The band was also named the overall state champion band and state champion percussion for the fifth consecutive year. The drum majors placed third, and the color guard finished second. The Pioneers also received the High Music Award and the Governor’s Award.

It’s the Marching Pioneers’ seventh state championship and fourth under director Jeremy Tate. Tate also has three runner-up finishes during his tenure.

“I am extremely proud of the Marching Pioneers and what they’ve accomplished this season,” Tate said. “Through rain, heat, cold, and more rain they’ve been a resilient group of kids. Thanks to all the chaperones, pit crew members, assistant directors, staff members, parents, administrators, GCHS faculty, community supporters, and most importantly for the students for making this show and season one of the most memorable yet! ”

With a great performance in the preliminary competition, the Marching Pioneers earned a spot in the Top 10, which qualified them for the finals. In prelims, the band was awarded second in Drum Majors, Percussion and Color Guard and first in Band, rating a 1 in all four categories and receiving the High Music Award.

Finals began at 7 p.m., and Marching Pioneers took the field at 7:30 with cheers from the huge crowd of supporters there to see the final performance of  “Unseen.”

The show transports each person through times of loss, sorrow, acceptance, hope and peace, beginning with softly sung lyrics of “Angels in the Architecture” composed by Frank Ticheli. The show then transitions into Hans Zimmers’ “160 BPM.” This piece was dramatic with its strong dynamic changes as well as “rash and syncopated percussion sections.” “In The Arms of an Angel,” made famous by Sarah McLachlan, was the featured ballad of the 2018 production. The tune begins with flute soloist Alyssa Welch, baritone soloist Thomas Lawrence, bass clarinet soloist Autumn Lock and clarinet ensemble Molly Greer, Allyson Lay, Jessica Griffin, Rebecca Welch and Marlene Perez playing the melody. The performance ends with “Fly to Paradise” by Eric Whitacre.

Senior band members Madalyn Tanner, Brittany Haines and Jessica Tanner received scholarship offers from various colleges. Tanner was awarded a $52,000 music scholarship to Bethel University and $3,500 to Austin Peay State University. Haines was awarded a combined total offer of $6,500 from the University of Memphis, Austin Peay State University and Union University. Tanner was awarded a $52,000 music scholarship to Bethel University and $3,500 to Austin Peay State University.

The band was escorted back to Gibson County High School by the Sheriff’s Department Sunday afternoon where family, friends, students and faculty members greeted and congratulated them on their championship marching season.

Competitions won this season include: Briarcrest Contest Class 4A- Reserve Grand Champions, overall second place Large Division (out of 21), first place drum majors, first overall for Contest, first place percussion, second place overall for contents and third place color guard; Hornet Invitational- Overall Grand Champions, first place in Class 5A in band, drum majors, color guard and percussion; Division 2 first place in color guard, percussion and band; University of Memphis Contest- Class 4A second place; Bethel University Marching Invitational- Overall Grand Champions, first place in band, color guard and percussion and second place in drum majors in the Gold Division.

The Marching Pioneers were also named the Tennessee Music Awards Band of the Year for 2018.

Band leaders this season were captains Ethen Carrell and Lydia Todd and drum majors Alaina Eddlemon and Logan McBride. Additional leadership staff includeed section leaders Marlenne Perez (clarinets), Brittany Haines (baritones), Emily Moulder (trumpets), Lauren Flowers (trumpets), Lauren Kelly (percussion), Madalyn Tanner (guard), Jessica Tanner (guard), Alyssa Welch (flutes), Ashlyn Hall (mellophones), Hillary Reynolds (percussion) Jessica Griffin (clarinets), Kaitlyn Zarecor (saxophones), Thomas Lawrence (baritones), Garrison Wyrick (trumpets), Cameron Cox (battery), Jack Lowrance (tubas) and Paxton Mathina (front ensemble).

Directors and staff include Tate; assistant directors Joseph Agee and Trevor Mayhall; and Tico Parson and Brent Jones, percussion; DeDe Johnson, color guard; Sharon Lee, drum majors; Bill Laarz, music and Frankie Congiardo, music/marching. Additional practice staff included Laurie Valentine Baker, woodwinds and Haley Earls Mallard, guard. Summer Staff included David Koelz, drill writer/music, Emily Brown, saxophones, Leah Jean Rollins, flutes, Reese Gardner, mellophones, John Glenn-Hoekstra, trumpets, Trice Mayhall, front ensemble, Keith Baumgardner, trumpets and Samantha Dobson, guard.

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