Wildcats edge Hart in Division 4A; Vikings take silver in 2A
First-year West Ranch High School band director Rod Schueller saw the Wildcats take home the top prize from the SoCal Marching Band Championships as his Wildcats swept every category en route to a gold medal in Division 4A.
The Wildcats finished with a total score of 92.7, just ahead of second-place Hart High School with a total score of 92.3. West Ranch swept every category after the band’s performance of their show “Sakura.”
Prior to heading to Downey High School for the Division 4A championships earlier this month, Schueller handed out T-shirts to his students with the words, “It’s a good day to be a Wildcat,” on them.
A gold medal would surely qualify as “a good day.”
“My goal for the marching band this season was for us to be our best,” said Schueller in a news release. “That means doing everything we can in our preparation to perform at the highest possible level. It is extra special when you’re recognized as being the best. It was truly a great day to be a Wildcat.”
Four other Santa Clarita Valley high school bands competed in the championships, with Valencia High School taking second in Division 2A and Canyon High School taking eighth, while Saugus High School was fifth in Division 3A and Golden Valley was eighth.
The Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association’s 2A championships were held at Long Beach City College and the 3A championships were held at Ramona High School in Riverside.
Hart band director Anthony Bailey said in a phone interview with The Signal that the large number of SCV high school bands qualifying for the championships shows how special these schools are.
“We represented Santa Clarita really well,” Bailey said.
The Hart band, with its showed titled, “In the Garden,” may not have been able to get by West Ranch, but Bailey wasn’t too worried about that. He said that with approximately 60% of his band being freshmen, the future of the Hart band is bright.
“It was a very close run,” Bailey said. “Especially for us, we’re really happy with that. We had a lot of progress with the course of the season. Sixty percent of my band is made up of freshmen, so we felt like that was a really great progression of the year for us.”
Valencia band director Kelvin Flores led the Pride of the Vikings in their performance titled “Highway Hypnosis” that garnered a score of 84.1. Moorpark High School took the top spot in Division 2A with a score of 87.3.
“’Highway Hypnosis’ is a captivating high-energy narrative that chronicles an unforgettable road trip journey from Colorado to Arizona and finally to California,” according to a news release from the Pride of the Vikings. “The performance features a visually stunning map that guides the audience through the mountains, the desert’s heart, and then to the vibrant adventures of the Southern California coast.”
Flores said in the news release that the band members were able to take second place due to their hard work throughout the year.
“I witnessed the depth of commitment, the sheer grit, and passion that each of the staff and students brought forth every single day,” Flores said in the release. “The countless hours of practice, the relentless pursuit of perfection, the sacrifices made for a collective goal. These were the building blocks of our success.”
According to the West Ranch news release, the Wildcats were already looking and sounding good during the early stages of the season, former West Ranch band director Jason Marshall told Larry Stoffel, a professor of instrumental conducting at CSUN.
“Getting that comment made me think if we are there now, this season has the potential to be really special,” Schueller said in the release. “They have grown immensely throughout the course of the year. After Wildcat Classic, I think there was an epiphany that we were entering competition season and with that came a higher degree of focus and an increased sense of urgency. I could not be prouder of them and more importantly happier for them because I know what this means to all of them.”
Schueller later said in the release that he put extra responsibility on the seniors who lost a season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those seniors helped lead the West Ranch band to a second division title in three years, with a different director leading the way in all three years.
“A couple of weeks ago I gathered the seniors and told them this was their last run at a title, and I charged them with the responsibility of working extra hard to lift the other members up to help us get to where we wanted to go, and they absolutely did it,” Schueller said in the release.
While the marching band competition season is now over, Bailey and the other directors can focus on concert season and prepare the future bands to be ready for next year’s championships.
“For us, really, the concert season is the biggest part of training for us,” Bailey said. “We get to work on a variety of music. To me it’s the most important part of our program. It’s not the most visible part of our program, but it truly is the most teaching that takes place.”