By Evan Grice
There was simply nothing that could stop the Pride of Piedmont marching band Saturday night at the Oklahoma Bandmasters State Competition at Mustang High School.
Despite cold and rainy conditions throughout the day, including a downpour during the preliminary round and the finals round, along with a delayed start time in the finals, the Pride of Piedmont put on the performance of their lives.
As a result, the 129 members of the Pride of Piedmont walked away as not only Class 4A State Champions, but Class 4A/5A Grand Champions for the second year in a row, claiming victory with an overall score of 86.45, nearly three whole points ahead of Coweta, who finished in second place.
“We lost 27 talented seniors to graduation last year,” PHS Band director Darnell Zook said. “And I think the expectations were a little low for us, because this was supposed to be a “rebuilding year” for us. That’s not because there was anything lacking in the kids we still had, but because we had such a large outflowing of talent.”
“From day one though, these kids kept proving themselves, even when we would raise the expectations for them. This group is the most aggressive-performing I have ever had. The bigger the stage for them, the harder they performed all year long.”
In the preliminary round, in the midst of an off and on rainstorm, the Pride of Piedmont still managed to put together a solid performance, giving them the Class 4A title with an overall score of 82.00, with Coweta claiming the Class 5A title with an overall score of 82.65. Fort Gibson was second in Class 4A with a score of 72.75.
Piedmont also managed to claim outstanding musical performance and outstanding visual performance in the preliminary round. But, the best was yet to come on the night for the Pride of Piedmont.
With their original performance time pushed back nearly one hour, meaning PHS had to perform at 9:45 p.m., every member of the Pride of Piedmont made sure their performance was more than worth the wait not only for the huge contingent of Piedmont fans in attendance, but the judges as well.
What followed when it was all said and done, was a clean sweep of every caption award in the finals round, along with a convincing score which proved the Pride of Piedmont were without a doubt champions, as they claimed their 12th state title in program history.
The cheers could be heard from miles around as those parents, fans, and many others supporting Piedmont showed their appreciation for what turned out to be a historic night for the Pride of Piedmont marching band and everyone involved.
“I’m just so proud of the kids,” Zook said. “They had one of those performances where they will remember the feeling for the rest of their lives. The emotion just continued to build and build, and by the end of it most of our kids were in tears. All of their hard work finally paid off, and all any of us could do was cry and hug the people who were there to experience it with us.”
“I think it also says a lot about our program that we had that moment after our finals performance, and not after we learned of the announcement of who won,” Zook added. “This is a community accomplishment. Our town, our school system, my staff and I, the kids and their families all have to come together to create what we have here. I try to remind myself and remind the students how fortunate we all are.”