Wildcat Marching Band sweeps caption awards at last competition

The Wildcat Marching Band prepares to perform in competition at Western Illinois University on Oct 26.

Paige Gieseke, Fielder Friday Editor

The Wildcat Marching Band placed first in their class along with a caption award sweep at Western Illinois University on Saturday, Oct 26. 

Chris Vanderwall, band director, is very proud of the hard work that all the students have put into their show, The Warrior Code. They have been working on the music since May, and they are now finishing out the season performing on a college football field. 

“Marching band is changing rapidly as an activity. It used to just be marching and playing and now it’s turning into a full production much like a musical. You [must] pack as much movement and music into seven minutes as possible, and it’s no longer relevant to, ‘just march and play,’” Vanderwall said. 

The band faced many challenges on their final performance day, mostly weather based. They performed in raincoats in order to keep themselves and some uniform parts dry. 

“The conditions on Saturday were pretty miserable (40’s and steady rain). The students, staff, and chaperones did an awesome job adapting to change throughout the day and late into the night to put on a great performance,” Vanderwall said. 

 The wind, rain, and cold temperatures made it difficult for students to be able to watch other bands and get concessions, so there was a lot of downtime on the busses. 

After the performance, students packed up their belongings and started the three-and-a-half-hour drive home. On the bus, a message was sent out about awards. When students heard that they had won first in class 4A, along with best winds, percussion, auxiliary, and drum majors, everyone cheered. 

“My initial reaction was disbelief considering all of the tough competition we were up against and the conditions we were playing in,” Logan Gieseke, sophomore, said. 

Students from each of the different winning sections were excited about their achievements, because all their work from band camp to several rehearsals felt like it paid off. 

“I think that the wind players excelled in volume, and tone. I think we just had the mindset that it was our last performance, and that we wanted to be able to exaggerate our musical technique,” Brandon Buonamici, junior, said. 

Kylee Degen, senior, believes that this win will help boost the program, because younger students looking forward to high school may want to be a part of a group that has proven to be successful over several events and seasons. 

“This win will hopefully inspire more incoming freshmen to want to be a part of the band program, as well as allow the band to receive more recognition and respect from the rest of the students at Central,” Degen said. 

Along with the wind players, percussionists, and color guard members, there are also drum majors. They are student leaders who conduct on large structures (podiums) so that the band can view them as a reference for time. Tiara Guider, senior, recognizes the effort her peers put in for their final performance together. 

“I think the drum majors excelled in showing emotion and really getting into the music. For us three senior drum majors that conducted in the front, we gave it our all because we knew it was [our] last chance to perform with the band. I think we just wanted to have fun, and that we did,” Guider said. 

All the students, no matter what they do on the field, are all excited about their win from this weekend, and they hope to continue to create success for the band program in the future. 

“I’m certainly glad that we were successful, but this is the first step of many toward developing the already great program that’s here at PCHS,” Vanderwall said. 


The Wildcat Marching Band prepares to perform in competition at Western Illinois University on Oct 26.
Chris Vanderwall
Trophies labeled ‘Best Winds’, ‘Best Percussion’, ‘Best Auxiliary’, ‘Best Drum Majors’, and 1st in class 4A sit on a stair in the stadium at Western Illinois University on Oct 26.