It's been quite a year for the Bellevue West High School Thunderbird marching band.
The 150-member band finished third in its class at the prestigious Bands of America Grand National Championships on Saturday.
The band placed 26th overall out of nearly 90 bands, some coming from Texas, Georgia, New York and Oklahoma.
The band's performance at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the NFL's Indianapolis Colts play, capped a stellar season.
Last month the band won the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association State Marching Contest. In September the band took first place at the Blue Springs Marching Invitational in Missouri and won the grand champion award at the Pursuit of Excellence Southwest Minnesota Marching Band Festival.
West performed a show titled “Looking Back,” a love story told backward. It starts with a wedding and ends when the couple first meet.
An electronic malfunction in the preliminary round at nationals left Kyle Haugen, West's director of bands, wondering if the Thunderbirds would move on. The introductory narration didn't start as planned.
The band advanced anyway, and then ironed out the electronic problem for the semifinal round, he said.
The kids delivered an energetic show, despite performing about 8:30 a.m., he said.
“I think if you'd ask any of the kids, it was definitely their best show of the year, which is always the way you want to go out,” Haugen said.
Color guard captain Taylor Kuhlman, 17, said the problem in the prelims was “nerve-racking.”
For the semifinals, however, she said the band “left it all on the field” and delivered a “goose-bump performance.”
Thomas Stoysich, 17, trumpet section leader, said competing on the national stage against such high-caliber bands was “truly amazing.”
Stoysich said students have worked hard for five months, but that most credit for the band's success goes to Haugen and the other band staffers.
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