Back on the field

The Tiger Marching Band and 20 bands from around the region put on a show at the 25th Pursuit of Excellence competition

Photo by Deb Gau Members of the Marshall Tiger Marching Band said they were excited to be back on the field this Excellence this weekend.

MARSHALL — There was a special kind of energy among the high school band students marching into the track and field complex at Southwest State University.

“They’re pumped because they’re on the field and there’s a crowd in the bleachers. And it feels good,” said Wayne Ivers as he announced award recipients at Saturday’s Pursuit of Excellence marching band competition.

Members of the Marshall Tiger Marching Band weren’t an exception there. Band members said Saturday they were looking forward to taking the field again in their hometown.

“It’s going to be exciting,” said Austin Dunn.

“Last year, we didn’t really have competitions,” said Kaity Goblish. Like many marching bands, Marshall’s season was cut short last fall by the COVID-19 pandemic. MHS students said they did get a chance to perform for their families, but nothing like Pursuit.

Goblish and fellow band members said it was “really exciting” to be back.

A total of 21 marching bands from high schools in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa took part in the 25th annual Pursuit of Excellence competition. As in previous years, there were a range of bands competing, from bands with 50 or fewer members all the way up to the Lincoln High School marching band from Sioux Falls, which was in a class by itself with more than 125 band members.

In addition to Lincoln High School, other bands placing first in their classes included Roosevelt High School from Sioux Falls, Mitchell High School from Mitchell, S.D., West Lyon High School from Inwood, Iowa, and Brandon Valley High School from Brandon, S.D.

The Tiger Marching Band performed their 2021 show, “Above the Clouds,” in a judged exhibition at the end of the night’s program.

The competition was only half of Pursuit, however. For most of the day, bands worked with clinicians to help polish their performance and marching skills.

“I think everyone enjoys the clinics. They learn a lot,” said Marshall band director Larry Petersen.

Marshall students were out practicing in the Marshall High School parking lot on Saturday morning. As they went over parts of their show, clinicians would step in to help students work on things like tempo, sound dynamics and marching drills.

“They really know their stuff,” Dunn said.

Goblish and other soloists in the Tigers’ show got a chance to practice in a small group with a clinician.

“It helps a lot,” Goblish said. It gave her “more input” on she could improve her solo performance, she said.

Petersen said Marshall’s clinic provided an excellent opportunity to work on some aspects of the band’s show this year, including marching and movement.

“One of our clinicians actually wrote our drill,” and was able to provide insight there, he said.

Petersen said the clinic was also a good chance for students to get more feedback on things they’ve already been working on this season.

With the pause in performing last year, the Tiger Marching Band is still building experience in some ways — even this year’s juniors really only have two years of experience, Petersen said. Petersen is also new as band director this year after Ivers retired.

“Luckily, we have a really awesome staff,” he said. Petersen said he’s happy to be working with them, and learning from Ivers. Together, they’ve all helped keep the continuity of the marching band program through the transition, Petersen said.


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