SAN ANTONIO -- Pratik Mandaliya is the drum line captain of Birdville High School's 11-member percussion section, so he's accustomed to big, loud moments.
But Tuesday's moment was special. The 17-year-old senior was at his first University Interscholastic League state competition.
"It was a really big thrill to walk through that tunnel and see the big stadium, all the people cheering," he said.
Bands from Birdville, Boswell, Aledo and Azle high schools competed with 20 other Class 4A bands from across the state starting at 9 a.m. at the Alamodome in San Antonio. After a long day, the only North Texas 4A marching band to advance to the final round was Waxahachie High School.
Late Tuesday, Cedar Park High School was named the state champion.
Waxahachie placed sixth.
At 4 p.m., Aledo was the last band to play in the preliminary round, a spot that was agreeable to director Joey Paul and his 250-member band, the largest in the competition.
During the performance, spectators and members of other bands began arriving to hear the finals announced.
"It can be good," Paul said of the last spot. "It's a great opportunity for my kids to perform for such a huge crowd, and it can keep you fresh in the judges' minds."
Like many of the bands, Aledo competed Saturday in San Antonio in the Bands of America competition, taking third in its class.
"It's a whole range of emotions," said Caleb Turner, 16, a junior trumpet player for Aledo. "It's excitement, and a little bit of nerves."
Ben Whited, a 17-year-old senior, plays tuba and was enjoying the moment Tuesday afternoon.
"I've been in band for four years, working to be right here," he said. "For me, performing last is the best place we can have. It shows everybody what they're up against."
Boswell was in the No. 2 slot and stepped off at 9:15 a.m.
"It's a really exciting experience," said Aspen Rivera, 14, a freshman marimba player. "I'm honored we get to do this my freshman year and that I can get a chance to grow and get better and work hard to get back here again before I graduate."
Eric Perry, 16, a junior at Birdville, performed a fluegelhorn solo during the Mighty Hawk band's midafternoon performance.
"I had some nerves, but it was more positive than negative," he said. "It was amazing just getting to perform before that many people all at once."
Jessica Rutter, a 15-year-old Azle sophomore, said all the practice was worth it to get to play her sousaphone at state.
"It doesn't matter if we make finals or not," she said. "I hope to gosh we do, though."
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657