Winter Guard Places Fourth In Ohio WGI Competition


By Taylor Ann Ono
[email protected] 
(Photo courtesy of Adrian Pulido (11)) Winter Guard started their season in December to practice for the dance, flag and rifle routines that they performed at the competition.

On April 6, the MHS Winter Guard moved onto finals for the first time in the Winter Guard International (WGI) Competition at North Kentucky University, placing fourth overall out of 134 schools. Finals took place at the Wright State University’s Nutter Center in Ohio, where certain students were awarded with scholarships from the WGI Sport of the Arts, such as Senior Janelle Matsuoka who received a $1,000 scholarship. The competition was comprised of scholastic, independent and international groups made up of participants ranging from students to adults. MHS’ Winter Guard has been practicing since December in hopes of impressing the panel of judges that they performed for.

“Putting on a show for an audience to watch will have to be one of the most nerve wracking, yet most exciting (things). The adrenaline, the uniforms, the crowd and just (the) experience are things that I cannot put into words,” expressed Winter Guard Captain Senior Akoni Pasoquen-Castillo.

Students have worked hard to make it to this competition both by training and helping each other. “This organization is about long term goals and achievement. You learn new things and get better as (the) season (goes) by,” Pasoquen-Castillo said. “Personally, I’ve been preparing for this by treating each performance as if I was competing in front of the WGI judges. I try to make each repetition better than the last and improve as a performer. As a captain, I record our practice runs and post them for my peers and I to watch. We study what parts we can improve on personally and what parts we can improve on as a whole. Doing this has been really good because the video will reveal some things that you as a performer cannot catch yourself.”

This competition brought different emotions to each individual, whom participated for their own reasons. “Winter guard gives me a chance to do what I love in a more advanced way. The season really (improves) my movement and spinning skills,” explained Winter Guard Captain Senior Justine Liu. “It’s my last season, and I really want to give it my all. I want our guard to show the world what we are capable of and represent (MHS). We are also able to watch other groups who are at a much higher level than us. This gives us a chance to learn and expand our knowledge of performing. It’s amazing what performers are capable of doing.” Junior Kaili Garland added, “Our school only participates in WGI every other year, so as a junior, this competition was my last chance to do my best as a spinner, and showcase that effort to everyone. I wanted to do my best for all of the seniors in guard who participated in this competition as their very last performance. For our advisers who helped us create our show, it was a dream come true to get to finals. For me, it was a dream that I hadn’t even dreamt yet so every second of the experience was unbelievable.” 

The experience as a whole has left the students with important life lessons and memorable moments. “I definitely learned how to persevere and push through. This experience has taught me how to work and be part of something that is much bigger than me. It has truly opened my eyes,” expressed Liu. “My favorite part is being able to perform and being able to be part of such a large production. The end result is so rewarding.” Garland added, “I enjoy the opportunity I’m given to bond with my fellow spinners and make connections with people that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I feel proud of myself when I can see my own improvements, and I enjoy performing and showing people how far I’ve come from the start of our season.”

Along with those lessons, they’ve gained new friendships that they hope to continue after the competition. “My guard members are like a second family to me. If I ever have a problem I know that I could talk to any one of them for help. They’re people I spend way too much of my time with every week and people that have grown with me and share my goals,” expressed Garland. Pasoquen-Castillo added, “We’re all definitely close, we’re with each other 24/7. You build relationships and bonds that you won’t find anywhere else.”

Students plan on practicing and improving their skills for next season, some of them continuing to the Bands of America Competition. As the juniors take the place of leaving seniors, they plan on making their last year the best one.