By Traci Chapman
For the second contest in a row, Yukon varsity winter guard posted a record achievement, as the team took first in its division, just days after making program history by making finals at a highly competitive regional competition.
Varsity’s 83.88-point score for its 2022 program, “Cathedrals not only topped its division, it was second only to larger program Choctaw’s 84.20 – earned in a higher scholastic open class.
The Winter Guard and Percussion of Oklahoma divisional win was the first for Yukon in an in-person contest, at least in recent memory – if not in the program’s history, director Hailie Eaves said. The team also took first place in its division in the WGPO Bartlesville contest in February, but that was entered virtually.
Yukon junior varsity came in seventh in its division, Scholastic Region A – and among a field of extremely experienced teams. Of those teams, however, it was a newcomer that topped the rankings – Okarche High School, in its first year as a competitive winter guard team, once again took its division. In the process, it posted the third-highest score of the competition, earning 82.330 points.
Yukon Middle School guard members also did well during the March 19 contest, earning an “excellent” rating. Middle school and novice teams are not placed or given point rankings.
“All of our guards have had huge improvements and were so proud of all they’ve accomplished,” Eaves said. “We’re working hard to set up all of our students for success for state and all of the staff is very excited to see where all of our guards place at state.”
That state competition is WGPO’s April 2 tournament, held this year at Jenks High School. As of press time, team times were not yet finalized, although the schedule showed performances beginning at 8 a.m. with middle school, then novice teams, with the final program to begin at 8:43 p.m.
Yukon High School’s varsity winter guard also made history March 5 when they for the first time made finals at Winter Guard International competition.
The WGI event, held at Tulsa Union High School, featured a host of heavy hitters – some of whom fell short of Yukon’s 77.47-point seventh place after finals competition. The team came one place after Mustang High School varsity, which earned 78.120 points.
Not only was the 7th place finish a first for Yukon winter guard, just making finals at the WGI tournament was a history-making accomplishment, officials said. Diana Williams, Yukon director of bands, was on hand to witness that achievement and said she was incredibly proud of the hard work and skill demonstrated by the school’s varsity team.
“They did an amazing job – we are so, so proud of all they have done this year,” she said.
The three guard teams are comprised of 56 members this season – 26 more than participated in color guard during marching band’s inaugural year under director Diana Williams, Eaves said. Staff have seen a significant interest in both color and winter guard membership this year, when compared to recent years. Two years ago, band and winter guard was completely sidelined due to COVID-19; last year, while competitions were held, the pandemic did cause an impact on participation beyond the middle school team, she said.
“We have gained over 30 new members between all guards,” she said.
In addition to Eaves, other educational guard staff include Madison Barnes, Miguel Zacarias and Paul Nguyen; Bruce Hulsopple serves in an administrative capacity. Three high school seniors – Anne Marie Beck, Candace Griffith and Maia Ross – serve as techs for the middle school team.
Once winter guard is finished in early April, staff and students alike will quickly transition to color guard, with a week-long audition process set for April 4 through April 8, Eaves said.
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