ELIZABETHTON — The Betsy Band of Elizabethton High School did something Saturday night it has never accomplished in all its years of outstanding performances: defended its state championship.
The Betsy Band repeated as state champion in the Tennessee State Division II Marching Band Competition held in Thompson Station, near Nashville, on Saturday. The band is under the direction of Perry Elliott and Chris Lockhart. It has won the state championship in three of the last four years. Just as last year, stormy weather played havoc with the schedule and delayed the announcement of final results until 12:30 a.m. But the weather had no impact on the band with a school mascot of a cyclone.
In the preliminary results, Elizabethton took first place in “High Music” and tied with its longtime rival, Fred J. Page High School for High Visual. The Betsy Band Color Guard took second place in the finals. The band’s public relations spokeswoman, Carol White, said the competition was very tight this year, with nine of the 10 bands in the finals receiving awards.
The band’s performance this year was “Our Town” and depicted life in Elizabethton, including the Covered Bridge, traffic and a rayon plant fire.
The competition began Saturday with 25 bands performing. In the end, it once again came down to a showdown in the biggest band rivalry in the state. Between them, Page and Elizabethton high schools have been state champions the past eight years, with Page winning five and Elizabethton now winning three.
The two schools have always faced each other at the end of the championship day. The only time Elizabethton has not won the title in the past four years was in 2011, when Page won the title by eight-tenths of a point in the tightest contest in the competition’s history. Elliott said this year, Elizabethton was first with 93.98 points and Page finished with 92.95 points.
“We were very pleased,” Elliott said Sunday. “The crowd was very enthusiastic.”
He said there was even a role reversal in the stadium. “Some of the football players drove to Nashville and they were in the stands, cheering us on.”
“We gave two very good performances,” Elliott said. “I was very pleased with the preliminary performance and thought we won it, and the scores showed I was right,” Elliott said.
He said the band is always a little nervous going into the final round. With 15 minutes before they were to enter the field, he told the band members to take a good last look at the traveling Governor’s Cup. Elliott said one band member said they would be looking at the cup for another year. That confidence was proven to be well deserved a few moments later.
“We had battled the elements during the day, but it was a beautiful night,” Elliott said.
The only bit of bad luck the band suffered on its trip was the theft of a trailer full of equipment.
The trailer belonged to Dr. Scott May, who has a son in the band. It was used to store audio equipment and other band accessories. It also included a Gator utility vehicle loaned to the band by Dr. Danny Smith.
“After our performances of ‘Our Town,’ we said that would never have happened in our town,” Elliott said.
The town’s citizens will get one last chance to see the band perform its state-winning program. At Friday night’s first round of the state football playoffs against Scott County at Brown-Childress Stadium, the band will present an encore performance of “Our Town.” The band will be wearing its competition uniforms.
“I have told the band the only time they get to wear those uniforms at a game is when they win the state championship,” Elliott said. “This will be the third time they have done it.”