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Madison Central High School marching band practices Thursday afternoon.

The Madison Central High School Marching Band made history by taking first place in Class 5A at the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) State Marching Band Competition for the third year in a row. Estill County won their second-straight Class 2A title.

The three-peat by Central is something no school has done since the association began basing division categories on school size.

The title was far from easy for Central, which placed fourth in the semifinals after receiving a time penalty at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville.

However, the band battled back in the championship round playing their show titled “Deafening,” which includes sections of Beethoven’s concertos and piano sonatas.

“Making state is a huge deal,” said MCHS Director of Bands Brent Barton before the band performed the final round. “Worst case scenario is it will be something they remember for the rest of their lives.”

However, the worst did not happen. In Friday’s interview with The Register, Barton said MCHS had built a legacy of excellence and were prepared to defend their title. The band played their best, said their director. And it seems their best was rewarded.

Per a snapshot of the KMEA score sheet posted to Twitter, following MCHS, North Hardin was second, Lafayette was third, and Paul Laurence Dunbar was fourth.

Barton has credited his band’s success to not only the students, but their families, the boosters, high school faculty, and administrators. As well as a long-standing relationship with local middle school band directors who prepare their students for moving onto the high school level.

Central has now won the Kentucky State Championship five times, including a 2A title, a 3A title, and now three consecutive 5A titles.

Estill wins second-second straight title

The Estill County High School Marching Engineers took home a second consecutive Class 2A title at the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) State Marching Band Competition.

“I think the kids in our group have worked hard, persevered and seen it through to the end,” said Jason Bowles, director of bands at ECHS shortly before the finals began. “I’m glad they were rewarded.”

In a previous interview with The Register, Bowls said he felt more pressure to compete this year, and repeat last year’s achievement. He added that his band had tried to concentrate on what made them successful last year.

This year, the band was more than a little fresh faced, including 20 new performers, along with a few middle school students marching up.

However, months of hard work and practice paid off when the band performed their show called “Pompeii 79 AD,” a largely theatrical performance, including large props such as an erupting volcano. In fact, the show typically takes 24 people just to set up the props.

While the intricately scored music used in the show was originally intended for the school’s concert band, Bowles told The Register Friday that it was rearranged to fit the marching band’s structure.

Bowles added that the band’s goal was simply to get in the top four, but that he was confident in his group. As it turns out, Bowles confidence was not unfounded.

Per a snapshot of the KMEA score sheet posted to Twitter, following ECHS was Washington County in second place, Garrard County in third place and Hart County in fourth place.

Madison Southern

For another local school, the competition ended sooner than desired. Madison Southern High School finished 16th in Class 4A.

“I think (the band) played their best show of the year (during the semifinals),” said MSHS Director of Bands David Ratliff. “It’s kind of frustrating the judges didn’t see it that way. But that’s the way it happens sometimes.”

Ratliff said he hopes the band members still see that hard work is valued even if they didn’t’ get the result they had hoped for, and that they realize the experience is more important than any number a judge could have given them.

Reach Critley King at 624-6623; follow her on Twitter @critleyking.

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