The Spirit of Waxahachie Indian Band placed first in the UIL 6A Area B marching contest Saturday, which qualified the band for the state competition.

It is the first time for the program to qualify for state in 6A. The band finished third in the 5A UIL state finals in 2017 behind Dripping Springs and Cedar Park High Schools.

Because of the jump in classification, the state qualification also marks the first time for the band to compete in the state championships in back-to-back years, as they typically only have the opportunity to compete for a state title every other year.

A total of 29 high schools competed Saturday at the Birdville ISD Fine Arts and Athletics Complex for the chance to advance to the state competition.

Waxahachie High School band director Richard Armstrong said his students played spectacularly — as expected.

“We have taught the students that they will rise to the level of their training and just go out and do what they have been trained to do," Armstrong explained. "This is exactly what they did — what they were trained to do.”

In the preliminary round, Waxahachie placed first with a total of 13 points, which is calculated by adding the placements — between first and 10th — by five judges. The band received two seconds and a first in music and one first and a seventh in marching.

Armstrong said the kids went into the contest with the mindset to “do our best and see how everything turns out.”

“We felt we could earn one of the five spots for state, but needed to have good runs to make that work," he added.

In the final round, Waxahachie earned 12 points. The first three judges ranked the band second, second and fourth in the music category, while Waxahachie was slated two second-place ratings in the marching category

There was some confusion when the placement of winners was announced, as Keller declared the overall champion with two first-place rankings and a tenth-place ranking in music and a first- and third-place ranking in marching.

Armstrong explained that, at the state level, if a team earns two first-place rankings in music and a first-place in marching, the band automatically receives first place regardless of the ordinals and classification of other groups. But, that rule does not apply at the area level.

In the final round, Waxahachie ranked above Keller (16), Coppell (18), Prosper (25) and Duncanville (31). The final results show Duncanville and Timber Creek both with a score of 31. Armstrong explained that Duncanville had three-fifths judges favor them over Timber Creek. He also added that Waxahachie advanced to the state marching contest in 2005 in the same manner.

Before the competition, Armstrong believed L.D. Bell, Coppell, Duncanville, Keller, Timber Creek, Prosper and Mansfield would prove to be the toughest competition.

The preparation for the competition was extraneous due to persistent rainfall. Armstrong affirmed the bad weather had a significant impact on the “learning and cleaning of our show.” Band students practiced, tracked music from inside the band hall and repetition was vital.

Throughout the semester the band practiced the show titled, “The Conquest,” which has been displayed during halftime performances at varsity football games. Over the school year, Armstrong witnessed the students march with more accuracy, which proved to be a strength. Even though the students play with more artistry at each contest, Armstrong encourages the students to refine their skills daily.

The Spirit of Waxahachie Indian Band will compete at the UIL state championship at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Nov. 5-6. The 6A preliminaries are Monday, Nov. 5 with the finals performed the following evening.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450