BEDFORD — An extraterrestrial invasion took over Pennington Field on Saturday afternoon, turning students into aliens.The Lake Ridge High School marching band performed songs like Muse’s Madness while engaging in a pretend battle as part of its performance for the UIL State Marching Band area finals. Twenty-four area bands marched on for a chance to make it to state finals Nov. 4-5 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. What drum major Nick Clark, 16, didn’t know halfway through the day was that his Lake Ridge band members had won first place in the preliminary competition. The bands, with color guard members helping amp up performances, were ranked in the finals for music and marching skills. “We did a lot of exercises to get ready for this performance,” Clark said.Local schools also competed at Northwest ISD Stadium in Justin and at other sites across North Texas to make it to the finals. Marching bands from 1A, 2A and 4A high schools advance to state this year, while 3A and 5A finished at regional competitions and will have a run for state next year.Olney, Seymour, and Anson high schools that competed at Northwest ISD in Justin are going to state. Honey Grove High School was picked as an alternate if one of the other 1A bands cannot make it. Azle and Boswell high schools are the 4A bands going to state. Four 4A bands advance from Pennington Field to state competition — Lake Ridge High School of Mansfield, Newman Smith High School from Carrollton, Wakeland High School from Frisco and Southwest High School from Fort Worth. Two alternates are also are from Frisco — Liberty and Centennial. Assistant director Jeff De Maagd of Southwest High School said it’s easy for the students to get nervous and he simply tries to teach them how to stay cool.“This is big time,” De Maagd said. “… But it’s important for our kids to know that a lot of great bands showed up today that will not go on.”Lake Ridge students are pretty excited to make it to the area finals in general. The Mansfield high school has been open for only two years now, and this was the first year the students were eligible to compete. “We just have an amazing director with an amazing vision,” said band booster President Felicia Pulido, whose daughter, Alexis Rocha, 15, plays the flute.Everman trumpet player Dylan Singh, 17, said that he was nervous while performing but that razzing with his buddies helps him keep his cool.Singh said a marching band making it to state is like a football team going to the Super Bowl. Performing “Arabian nights” based on the One Thousand and One Nights stories, the Summit High School band and color guard performance was a twist on an old tale.The color guard girls wore different shades of purple and dressed as genies.Tyra Thompson, the band’s 18-year-old drum major, designed T-shirts for the professional staff to wear that went with the theme. Thompson said the team was not so optimistic in past competitions, but that was not the case Saturday.“As I was looking across the field today I could see people smiling,” Thompson said.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST