Marching Hundred wins competition
The state championship game for high school football may be in December, but for the Russellville Marching Hundred, their “state championship” came this past weekend and they took home the top prize.
On Saturday, the Marching Hundred participated in the Curry Marching Classic in Jasper and took home Best in Class awards for drum major, majorettes, dance line and percussion; received superior ratings for band, drum major, color guard, majorettes, dance line and percussion; and took home the Grand Champion Gold Division award, which landed them the title of overall winners out of 25 bands, some of which were 6A schools.
According to drum major Matthew Sewell, a senior and five-year Marching Hundred member who also won the Vanessa Watts Memorial Award on Saturday for being the highest-scoring drum major of the day, the honors the band received this weekend are the result of hard work, practice and dedication to this year’s show.
“When we first got started with rookie camp and band camp this summer, I was worried about how the season would go because we had so many incoming freshmen who hadn’t marched before,” Sewell said.
“I knew it was going to take a lot of practice and leadership from our senior class to make this a fun, entertaining show but also one that would be competitive.”
Band captain Caroline Hollimon, who is also a senior and five-year Marching Hundred member, said she agreed that the season could have just as easily been a wash.
“I knew from the beginning that it was going to take some work to make this a good year, but everyone just rolled up their sleeves and got to work,” Hollimon said.
“We had extra practices, especially after our last competition, and I think those practices really helped us focus and get prepared for the competition this past Saturday.”
The previous competition Hollimon referenced was the Winfield Pirate Classic that took place Oct. 6.
At that competition, the Marching Hundred received Best in Class awards for drum major, dance line and color guard and placed second overall – a mere 0.60 points behind 6A Shades Valley.
“It started pouring down rain when we walked on the field to compete at Winfield, but even in the rain, we pulled out a good score,” Sewell said.
“Knowing that we had come so close to beating a 6A band – one that was bigger than us with more members – we knew we had the potential to be grand champions but we were going to have to work on some things and make some improvements.”
For the next two weeks, Hollimon said each section worked on their marching, their music and their routines.
“We took the comments the judges made at the Winfield competition and really tried to work on those things,” Hollimon said. “I’m so proud of everyone for the hard work and effort they put in.”
Sewell, who can see and hear how the band is performing from his position as the drum major, said the vintage, Jackson Five-themed show went as well as it possibly could have.
“From an entertainment standpoint, we have a lot of elements in the show that make it visually appealing, fun, energetic and really involves the crowd,” he said. “From a competitive standpoint, we have a lot of dynamics that show off the talent we have. All in all, it’s just a great show.”
But even knowing the band did their very best, Sewell said there’s always a chance someone else had a better day.
“When you compete against 6A schools and other strong schools in your class, you never know what’s going to happen,” Sewell said. “When they ended up announcing that we had won, it didn’t even sink in until I head Caroline [Hollimon] screaming next to me. Then the rest of the band came running onto the field to celebrate with the seniors.
“Once it sunk in, the feeling was just indescribable. This is like our state championship and we brought home the top award. We told the rest of the senior class that we wanted to work hard so we could leave a legacy, and that’s what we’ve done.”
Band director Gary McNutt said he was very proud of the students for such a great accomplishment.
“This is a special senior class and it takes a great amount o senior leadership and drive to make things like this happen,” McNutt said.
“The members of our band are extremely talented and I am proud of the strong work ethic they have. It takes every section of the band – the color guard, the percussion, the majorettes, the dance line, than ones who play instruments – coming together to pull out an overall grand champion award like this, so it speaks volumes of every member of the Marching Hundred.”