Saturday, October 18th The Sound of Panther Pride marching band finished their competitive season as the overall sweepstakes trophy winner among fifty-four bands in Trenton, Missouri! The Oak Grove band placed first for indoor colorguard, indoor drumline, on parade and second for their 2014 field show 'The Planets.' The panthers were also awarded the 'best field auxiliary' award as well as the 'best drum majors' award. Sousaphone section leader and senior DJ McCloud summed up the band's final competition succinctly, "Today was the highlight of my year and marching band career. I enjoyed my final competitive performance with my band family."
The 180 students comprising 'The Sound of Panther Pride' marching band began their day with a 4:45 AM call time in order to arrive in Trenton prior to the town closing off all entryways. Parade participants are instructed to be punctual as to allow the community's largest event of the year to commence on time. All bands choosing to compete on street and field are eligible for the festival's greatest award, the sweepstakes trophy. Last years' sweepstakes winner Macon was the closest band in score on parade to the panthers' 88.5 with a total of 84.5 points. "Watching the band execute their corner, I knew that we were going to have a great day," said director Jon West. Close contenders on the streets of Trenton, included Center of Kansas City, Smithville, Savannah and Kirksville. Commenting on the season's longest parade route of 1.1 miles, senior flutist Amanda Barker stated, "Though the parade was long, people really stuck it out until the bitter end." Sousaphone player Josh Stovall added, "[our parade] was very well performed with lots of crowd support." Crowd support was apparent throughout the day as Trenton's high school gym was filled beyond seating capacity for both indoor colorguard and drumline events.
"The colorguard performance today was breathtaking! They did a fantastic job!" exclaimed drum major Cayla Wilhoit. Led by student captains Chandler Minnis, Callie Tripp and Miranda Strickland the Oak Grove auxiliary squad out-performed every unit regardless of classification both inside as well as on the field. "Being completely undefeated is awesome," exclaimed director Beth Jinkins, adding, "We were aiming for a win over indoor powerhouse Smithville and came away victorious across the board!" During the routine to 'Jupiter' these seventeen girls throw rifle, spin flag, sabre and incorporate dance elements. Highlights of the show include a dance trio moment with Alexa Easley, Miranda Strickland and Callie Tripp and the fan favorite final rifle toss flawlessly executed by Chandler Minnis. Thirty-two schools competed in the gym while thirty-seven were judged on the field. The Oak Grove colorguard outscored all schools including notables Smithville, Pleasant Hill, Liberty North, Park Hill, Oak Park and Ottumwa, Iowa. Colorguard set the stage, so to speak, for a second indoor performance from Oak Grove - the OGHS drumline.
"I love our drumline. They never play below awesome!" stated trumpeter Zach Jones. Performing show selections 'Venus' and 'Mars' the Oak Grove drumline brought the thunder to Trenton with yet another powerful performance. In keeping with what is quickly becoming an Oak Grove tradition, director Nathan Long added a few new elements a couple hours before performance time. "I'm not surprised by anything Mr. Long throws at us. It probably helped keep us where we need to be for performance - on the edge" snareline member John Macrander stated. In the final minutes allowed to every drumline in the practice gym, Captains Anna Lee and Katie Kim gave their final thoughts on performing for their friends and family. The Oak Grove drumline placed first in their division edging out Grandview, Excelsior Springs, Savannah and Kirksville among a large field of competitors. As the panthers left the gym from the indoor drumline routine, they had already clocked in a twelve-hour day, and they were still four hours from their final field competition of the year.
"The whole day was fun! I think my favorite part was performing the show. It was the best field show we've done by far!" drum major Jacob Blegen said. Gustav Holst's 'The Planets' seemed to resonate with judges at all four marching band competitions and Trenton's Missouri Days festival was no exception. Performing at 7:45 under the lights, 'The Sound of Panther Pride' came together for one final field show competition defeating seven division 4A bands and falling only points away from Grandview. Trumpet section leader Daniel Drury offered his thoughts, "With such a large band, one or two people performing well doesn't mean much. It's really about how we all come together and perform as a band," Drury stated. Blegen added, "There's so many different elements that have to come together at exactly the right time, the soloists and the leaders that keep this band focused are just amazing." Adding to the impressive list of accolades was the best drum major award. The Oak Grove drum majors set the goal of getting that award during band camp in July. Drum majors of the 'Sound of Panther Pride' are Madison Letzig, Bryce Fangmann, Jacob Blegen and Cayla Wilhoit. "It has been an honor being able to be drum major for this band!" Wilhoit exclaimed.
Capping off the 10:30 awards ceremony was the announcement of the 2014 Sweepstakes trophy winner. As several-hundred band members from across the state gathered on the field, Oak Grove's name rang through the cold night air. 'The Sound of Panther Pride' had earned the honor for only the third time in school history. Previous to this year, Oak Grove has taken home the 'Missouri Days' marching festival trophy in 2008 for the 'Tour of Rock' show and in 2011 for the 'Civil War' show. Directors Beth Jinkins, Jon West and Nathan Long all agree that this band, made up of a vast array of the high school population, stands among the greatest in school history!