Betsy Band takes second in state meet

The Elizabethton High School Betsy Band finished its season with a second-place finish in the Tennessee Division II Marching Band State Championship at Stewarts Creek High School in Smyrna on Saturday night.

The band’s score was 94.5. Band Director Perry Elliott said the band was first after the preliminary competition and finished with the silver, just .85 of a point out of first and .85 of a point from a perfect season. Adamsville Junior Senior High School won the championship. It was a reversal of last year’s results, when Elizabethton won the champtionship and Adamsville was second. Sullivan South finished fourth.

“Their performance was outstanding,” Elliott said about the Betsy Band after it returned to Elizabethton on Sunday afternoon. He said both Elizabethton and Adamsville gave great performances.

“It came down a difference between apples and bananas. Our performance was more aggressive and theirs was more conservative. It was really just a matter of which style the judges preferred,” Elliott said.

The band’s standards are so high that a second-place finish in the state was cause for disappointment, especially among the seniors, who finish their careers with one championship during their junior year and three second-place state finishes for the rest of their years in the Betsy Band.

“This is not the way the seniors planned on ending their careers, but this is one of life’s lessons they are learning, that things don’t always go the way you planned,” Elliott said.

This was an especially large senior class, with about 42 or 44 members in the band. Most of the seniors started playing in the marching band at T.A. Dugger Jr. High School.

“Its been a lot of work,” drummer Gavin Peters said.

“Its been a lot of fun, too,” fellow drummer Ryan Manuel said.

Some of the band still have more marching performances this year. Courtney Bowers has been named a U.S. Army All-American and will perform in the color guard at the All-American band’s performance in San Antonio in January.

There are also performances of a different type for Jared Erwin, the vocal soloist for the band, who will be performing with the men’s chorale ensemble several more times in his academic career.

Drum Major Jake Hensley said many of the seniors plan to continue performing at the next level, especially with the East Tennessee State University Band. He said others are considering the University of Tennessee Band, especially after the Betsy Band performed with the Pride of the Southland Band at Neyland Stadium last month.

Noah Stonebreaker plans on becoming an accounting major at ETSU and could continue his musical pursuits by performing with a jazz group.

His friend, Max Kelly, is setting an especially high target. He will be enlisting in the Marine Corps in a couple of months with the objective of eventually becoming a member of the “President’s Own” United States Marine Band.

“That is a big goal,” Elliott said, “but you can’t achieve great things if you don’t dream big.”

That is the reason second place in the state just wasn’t quite good enough for the Betsy Band this year.