Things just keep getting better for the Jamestown High School Express Winter Guard program.
After winning Winter Guard International's "Mid-East Color Guard Championship," Express is now ranked No. 1 in the nation within its class, Scholastic A.
The championships were hosted in Cincinnati March 16-17. With a score of 87.275, Express beat out the competition to take home the gold in all three championship levels - preliminaries, semi-finals and finals. According to Marc Lentsch, coach of Jamestown Public Schools' winter guard program, the event featured the best guard programs from nine states.
Members of the JHS Express Winter Guard pose for a group photo. Pictured in front, from left, are: Alyssa Huntington, Kelly Spencer, Kianna Wilson, Abbie Perrin and Breanna Kuhaneck. In the second row are: Lexi Paulson, Zane Franco, Miles Brickley and Brianna Harris. In the third row are: Caitlyn Conkright, Terry Spoon and Lexi Turner. In back are: Miranda Haley, Selena Martinez, Telly Ortiz and Emily Whitney.
With the completion of the mid-east championship, Express has now participated in seven of its nine WGI competitions for the year - each of them a victory. According to Lentsch, the 2013 team has been exceptional thus far.
"We're very good this year," said Lentsch, after Express won its regional competition in Rochester on Feb. 16. "(Express) is currently ranked No. 1 in the country, and it's possible that they could stay No. 1 through the season. But you never know what's out there (in terms of competition) until they come out (for championships)."
The Express program is currently competing in two separate organizations: Winter Guard International, which includes guard programs from across the country and the world; and Northeast Color Guard Circuit, containing local guard programs throughout the western half of New York state. While the winter guard season runs from November through April, the first two months are designated for preparation and rehearsal, with competitions beginning in January.
In addition to Express, JPS also offers two other winter guard groups: Expressions, equivalent to junior varsity in other sports; and Caboose, for middle school students. All three groups compete within the NECGC, though Caboose only participates in four competitions per season because it is an introductory program. Lentsch said that approximately 70 JPS students are involved in the winter guard program.
Despite being a very good team overall, Express will also have a home field advantage at its next NECGC competition. The circuit competition will be held today in JHS' McElrath Gymnasium at 5:30 p.m. All three JHS winter guards will compete in the event, featuring students from age 9 to 18, and Express will perform its show, entitled "Guards in Motion." Lentsch said that 14 guards from 10 schools will compete in the JHS gym, including some independent guard programs.
"It's usually a good turnout," said Lentsch. "We're not sure how we're going to do (this year) with spring break starting at the same time, but usually we pack the gym."
Following today's competition, the JHS winter guards will be looking toward their respective championships. On April 6, all three guard programs will compete in the NECGC circuit championships at the Rochester Institute of Technology. After that, Express will also compete in the WGI regional championships in Dayton, Ohio, on April 11-12.
"Those are huge," said Lentsch. "They are sort of like the Olympics of our sport. Independent classes come from all over the world, but ours is scholastic so we're within the country. About 140 of the best guards across the country will be there."