Greencastle-Antrim High School guard makes its mark in world-class event

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
The Greencastle-Antrim High School Indoor Guard made its first ever appearance at a Winter Guard International competition Saturday in Pittsburgh and brought home the bronze.

The instructors are delighted, the participants are giddy, and Greencastle-Antrim School District is proud of the third place finish of the high school Indoor Guard. The team made its debut appearance at Winter Guard International Sport of the Arts, and came home in third place.

The competition was held near Pittsburgh on Feb. 27, with 22 groups in Greencastle’s Scholastic A category.

“We’ve always wanted to do it,” said color guard instructor Jay Wetzel. “It exposes kids to high quality judging.”

The 12 girls made the cut in the preliminary round. Eleven teams then went for the gold.

“It was amazing,” said Emily Campbell, a freshman. “We were blown away by how kind everyone was. We were nervous but thought ‘We got this’, because we’ve been practicing so hard.”

Cheers and applause from the audience spurred them on.

Senior McKenna Alexander enjoyed the presence of her family in the crowd. She and Emily were among many of the girls who joined the guard in seventh grade through the middle school program. Now she reached the peak of her career.

“It was terrifying and wonderful at the same time,” McKenna said. “After the first round I cried, I was so happy. It was so beautiful. I couldn’t have asked for anything better my senior year.”

WGI Sports is regarded as the world’s premier organization for indoor color guard, percussion and wind ensemble competitions. There were 36,000 participants at the regional locations this year, and more than 12,000 at the world championships last April. The states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, West Virginia and New York were represented in Pittsburgh last weekend.

For director and show designer Ryan Eberly, the performance and bronze award were fulfilling.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the results. It was a long time coming. They were ready for this,” he said.

Eberly has been involved in guard for 24 years, the last two decades teaching the necessary skills. He was glad the team got visibility on the national stage, and that the instructors had the opportunity to be reviewed with an “outside objective look” from judges they had never met.

The G-AHS guard program is “Shoulders”, a poem recited over music concerning Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders. At WGI, they were allotted eight minutes, including set up and tear down. The actual show was around four minutes.

Though expenses were associated with the trip, which included an overnight stay, the team was able to go at minimal cost. They conducted fundraisers and received sponsorships from New Utilities Incorporated, Beck Manufacturing (Anvil International), Greencastle Notary, Bell Insurance, Rhodes Computer Services, and Negley’s Clean Water Center.

The indoor guard members are: McKenna Alexander, Brooke Baughman, Victoria Burgess, Montana Scott, Emma Hohl, Lauren Colgan, Monique Johnson, Courtney Norris, Courtney Ocker, Stephanie Parsons, Emily Campbell and Amberly Schaeffer.

Color guard staff includes: Ryan Eberly, Jay Wetzel, Kelly Bouder, Kieran Maher and  high school band director Aaron Griesser.

Griesser said, “The students, staff and parents would like to thank the school board and administration for making this trip possible. It was a very exciting experience to see all of their efforts pay off in their first-ever competition at this level.”

The 27th Greencastle-Antrim Indoor Percussion and Guard Show will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 5, in the high school gymnasium.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students/senior citizens and will be available at the door. Programs will be sold for $2 with the chance to win a door prize. There will also be concessions available and a bake sale.

Indoor percussion provides a venue in which students can showcase their talents by playing together to take the spectator on a journey. Likewise indoor guard allows guard performers to showcase their talents by drawing the spectator in to tell them a story.

In addition to 20 groups visiting from other school districts for the competition, five local groups will be performing in exhibition at the following times: G-AHS percussion, 4:26 p.m.; G-AMS percussion, 4:36 p.m.; Cadet guard, 5:57; G-AMS guard, 7 p.m.; G-AHS guard, 8:02 p.m.

Local indoor show takes floor Saturday