Indoor Winds Place Third At WGI


Maya Hirano, Reporter

     On the morning of Sunday, April 14, 44 Trojan students were preparing for the performance of their lives. Calming their nerves in order to put their best foot forward, the MHS Indoor Winds competed for the first time at the Winter Guard International (WGI) Winds held in Dayton, Ohio from April 13 to 14. While originally planning to compete in the Open Class, MHS was moved up to World Class just a week before the competition where they valiantly fought to place third at the 2019 WGI World Championships in the scholastic division.

    “The marching arts is special in that we have the ability to compete and receive feedback on a national level. Aside from knowing who and what we are on a smaller local level, seeing who we are on a broader national spectrum helps to provide clarity and direction to the development of our young performers,” said Band teacher and Marching Band Director

Derek Kaʻapana.

    The Indoor Winds began practicing for their show titled “Before My Last Breath” in January. They practiced for eight hours weekly leading up to the competition and ended up making last minute changes to their show just days before performing. “While we were up there, we had practice every day. And then they were like, you know what, this doesn’t look good, we’ll change it. That was very stressful, like what if someone doesn’t remember the change?” said Senior Chloe Fong. “It was scary for me, thinking if muscle muscle memory kicked in and they didn’t remember the change, that would be bad.”

    The indoor winds faced off against seven other schools in their battle to the top and being moved up to World Class meant a higher caliber of opposition. When he was notified of the promotion, Kaʻapana was already up in Ohio with the MHS Winter Guard competing in WGI the  previous weekend. “Upon evaluation of our video, the board of directors at WGI felt that our show design, visual skill set and the simultaneous demands on the performer were inline with World Class and therefore we were promoted,” said Kaʻapana. Senior Sydney Quitoles added, “To not have competed in a WGI competition ever and then be moved up to compete with the best groups around the entire world was so surreal.”

    While being promoted provided an opportunity to experience international competition, it also put more pressure on the students. Nerves began to kick in as they mentally prepared for the challenge they were about to face. “Being promoted up to the World Class was very intimidating in a sense, because I thought okay, Open Class, it won’t be too bad, hopefully, we’ll place pretty high,” said Fong.

    Junior Rayson Thornock added, “I’d say mentally was the toughest, because there’s other high schools that are like absolutely massive in the marching world and to be able to have to go up and compete against some of these giants in the industry was a really tough mental hurdle to kind of get over.”

    While the indoor winds group was successful, there were some minor setbacks in the beginning. In the preliminary round, they placed fourth with a score of 90.625; 0.350 points under Flanagan High School, who had placed third. “Instead of the track of music that was supposed to play for performances, we used the rehearsal track so most of the voice overs and background effects were not there. After prelims, lots of tears were shed because we really wanted to put out a great performance and we knew that run was not the best representation of what we could do. However, as a band, we were able to brush it off, learn from our mistakes and at the end, the bad performance just gave us more motivation to do better during finals,” said Quitoles.

    In the championships, the winds group tried again and performed to exceed expectations. They placed third with a score of 92.975, beating Avon High School — the fourth place school who originally placed second in preliminaries — by a point difference of only 0.025. “A lot of us look up to Avon for inspiration because that’s how good they are. To be able to medal, World Class, and then especially over a school that we have so much respect for, you know, it’s pretty awesome,” said Thornock. Fong added, “When they announced us for third place, it was a bittersweet moment. Like all these practices weren’t for nothing.”

    Along with Kaʻapana and the students, the clinicians, Christian Luke, Susan Segawa, Jeremy Thompson and Todd Clevenger all worked together to make this performance possible. These efforts allowed “Before My Last Breath” to display the primary message of making the most out of your life. “The show is based on a poem by Ron Tranmer called ‘The Dash Between.’ It was a poem that I had read at my father’s funeral and was the main inspiration behind (the) design (of) this production. The show is a reminder to live your life and to make the most of it. When our loved ones gather at our headstone after our passing, they see the date of our birth and the date of our death. But what matters the most, is the dash between those years,” said Kaʻapana.

    With this being the MHS Indoor Winds’ third year of existence and their first international competition, the group is still relatively new and will be planning on competing again in the 2020 WGI Winds.