By JENNIFER MEIER
GREENWOOD — Four Elkhart County Winter Guards brought home the gold in Indiana High School Color Guard Association (IHSCGA) Regional A Divisional Finals this weekend.
Goshen Junior Varsity, Northridge, Northwood and Elkhart Central headed to Center Grove High School in Greenwood Saturday to compete against a field of 37 Winter Guards from around the state.
The local teams claimed four of the 10 golds awarded by the judges. After a long day of competition, Elkhart Central placed third and Northridge fifth. Both Goshen JV and Northwood placed in the top 10.
For Northridge a top five finish took the 13-member guard and their director by complete surprise.
This was the first year Northridge has had a Winter Guard, as well as the first time they had received a gold all season.
“Our goal was to get a gold and place in the top 10,” said sophomore guard Blair Neidlinger. “And we weren’t even sure we would get that!”
After waiting four hours after their performance of “Swim” for the 5 p.m. awards, Neidlinger was casually listening as the top five places were announced.
“I couldn’t believe it!” Worley said when Northridge’s name was announced as the fifth place winner. “There were definitely a lot of tears all around.”
It was the final performance and a sweet victory for Northridge’s only senior guard member CaitlinWorely.
“I was pretty nervous because it was all new for us,” Worley said. “I was hoping to get in the top 15, so I was a little shocked to hear we had a gold and to hear our named called for fifth place. I would definitely do this again if I could.”
Brittany Smith is the Northridge Color and Winter Guard director.
“The performance Saturday was the best one of the year,” Smith said. “The girls did an amazing job. They left everything on the floor with no regrets. I couldn’t ask for better girls to work with!”
With one of its smallest groups in several years, the Goshen JV Winter Guard with their performance of “Today” earned a gold and a top 10 performance at divisional finals.
“I was pleased with the girls’ performance. They had extra rehearsals this week to be better prepared for this day,” said Guard Director Takesha Stoll. “And their work has paid off. We hoped for a gold rating today and they earned it. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
“This is Not the End”, won the young, 10-member Northwood Varsity Guard a gold, as well as a top 10 rating at divisional finals. This is only the third season for winter guard at the high school.
“The girl’s performance on Saturday was by far the best run of the season,” said Guard Director Brittany Miller. “The past few weeks we have been working extremely hard on cleaning the small details of the show and getting the girls to spin together.”
The show earned the group the opportunity to move into a higher class next year.
“To have such a young guard –three sophomores and seven middle schoolers –and such a young program and still be this successful is extraordinary,” Miller said. “I could not be more proud of these girls and all they have accomplished this year. I am looking forward to watching these girls grow and excel in the years to come.”
The other winners in Regional A Winter Guard competition were first place, Jay County; second place, Bishop Dwenger; and fourth place, Monroe Central.
IHSCGA Divisional Finals for Class AA Winter Guard competition were held Saturday at Mooresville High School.
Of the 35 schools participating, Fairfield earned a Silver for their performance of “Restless.” The 20-member guard is made up of 75 percent freshmen and is under the direction of Kali Marquart.
“It was a good season and a learning experience for us all,” Marquart said. “We weren’t as competitive as in season’s past, but that let us focus on the many other blessings that sprinkled the season.”
Marquart is a Fairfield graduate and six-year Winter Guard member and has been leading the group for one year.
“Our program is like family and we’ve really gown to appreciate that,” Marquart said. “We are fortunate to have such a special group of girls and parents.”