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South Point band takes top honor at Buckeye Classic

Band competition cut short by high winds

The 2018 Buckeye Classic at Ironton High on Saturday drew 13 schools to participate in the marching band competition, with South Point taking the top honor and being named overall grand champion.

The Band of Gold, led by drum major Abbi Lively, won for their show, “Ninja,” also topping their Class AA category, in which they competed against Russell High School.

The competition, launched in 1987, is in its 32nd year and includes, between band members, color guard, dance lines and majorettes, more than 800 performers and draws 2,500 spectators to the Tanks Memorial Stadium, according to Jeff Sanders, the band director for Ironton High.

Schools taking part are rated for band, percussion and auxiliary units and are grouped according to school size.

Shows came in all varieties, such “Masterpiece,” by Ross High, which centered around works of art or Valley High’s performance, themed to Disney’s “Moana.” One particularly well received by the crowd was Point Pleasant’s “The Greatest Showman,” which used circus imagery to match the P.T Barnum biographical film it drew from.

The weather at the start of the five-hour event was sunny and seasonable, but, as the night set in, so did rain showers and, in the final hour, just as Portsmouth West was about to perform, windy conditions developed into high level gusts, knocking people to the ground and blowing over equipment and props.

Several attendees said they saw the large flagpole that towers in the background of the field noticeably bending in the wind.

Organizers called for a delay and performers and crowd members were moved into the school’s gymnasium for safety.

The decision was then made to end the event and clear the stadium.

West Portsmouth, who would have competed in the AA category, returned home. Also canceled in performing was Ironton, who, as host school, does not compete in the event, but normally close the festivities.

High winds, with gusts exceeding 60 mph, were reported throughout the Tri-State Saturday, with power outages hitting throughout the region. AEP reported 35,000 customers without service, with the bulk of those in West Virginia.

After the winds died down, Sanders held a makeshift awards ceremony in the gymnasium, where performers and family were packed inside.

“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced wind like that at a band competition,” he said, stating they decided not to return to the field because the north wall of the stadium had bowed in during the wind.

“Right now, it’s structurally unsound,” he said. “There’s no way we could put a crowd back in there tonight.”

Trophies were handed out to those still attendance.

Coming in behind South Point for grand champion was 1st runner-up Russell High and second runner-up Ross High.

Winning for overall best music was South Point, who also won best general effect and best auxiliary.

Russell was named for best overall marching, while Symmes Valley won for best percussion.

In Class AA South Point took first for band and auxiliary, while Russell won for best marching.

In Class A, Ross won for band and percussion, while Point Pleasant won auxiliary.

In class B band, Minford was first, followed by Northwest, Gallia Academy and Valley high schools. In the percussion category, the results were the same, while in auxiliary, Gallia Academy led, followed by Minford, Valley and Northwest.

In Class C band, Symmes Valley led, followed by Green, Lynchburg-Clay and Southern. For percussion, Symmes Valley led, followed by Southern, Lynchburg-Clay and Green, while in auxiliary, Symmes Valley again took the top spot, followed by Green and Southern.

Finally, superior ratings were announced, with recipients eligible to go on to participate in state marching band finals. Earning this designation were Northwest, Minford, Gallia Academy, Point Pleasant, Ross, Russell and South Point.