Marching band holds annual drill down

MaKenna Eilert, Blue M Photo Editor

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Marching is the name of the game. One missed step and you’re out at the Manhattan High Big Blue Marching Band’s drill down on Aug. 4 at Bishop Stadium.

The drill down is a competition of ultimate focus and execution of commands, as shouted by band director Joel Gittle, while also displaying the student’s marching improvement after a week of intense band camp. Band members line up on the field in anticipation of certain commands.

“When you hear the word ‘hut and move’ that is when you move and if you don’t hear those commands then you don’t move,” senior Jenna Dominguez said. “It gets confusing and complicated but I think I speak for everyone when I say it’s a lot of fun.”

The combination of commands gets increasingly harder as more and more members are tagged out for missing a step.

“I was really nervous because you know after you win one the judges are like super hardcore,” junior Jayden Gittle said after winning the drill down. Jayden encounters criticism for being the band director’s daughter but her father ensures there’s never an opportunity for controversy.

“I don’t judge because I’m calling out the commands and my wife, she stopped judging at about 50 people left just to make sure no one would say anything,” Joel said. “It’s in the genes. She’s a pretty darn good marcher so I’m proud of her.”

The marching band experienced some of the best weather in years during their annual band camp.

“We never get weather like this,” Joel said. “It’s either raining or it’s 110 [degrees] so I don’t know what to think if it’s a jinx or if it’s just a blessing in disguise,”

This weather allowed incoming freshmen to truly get the marching band experience before upcoming shows. In previous years, the camp had been rained out, leaving freshmen unprepared for their first show.

“The freshman seem to be picking up things pretty fast,” Dominguez said, “faster than I’ve seen actually.”

The band practices for five hours a day for five days straight to prepare themselves for the upcoming season, allowing the newcomers to become accustomed to marching in front of people.

“I was kind of nervous at first but once we started I just kind of forgot people were watching and was having fun,” freshman Megan Wuggazer stated. Wuggazer was the last remaining freshman in the drill down.

The band’s improvement has fueled their hopes for the upcoming marching season.

“I mean look what we did this week and listen to how we sounded,” Joel said. “If we hit the ground running,  I’m expecting some fine things.”

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Marching band holds annual drill down