‘Betsy Band captures Karns Invitational for Class 4A-6A

Published 9:45 pm Tuesday, September 28, 2021

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After two years without competing, the Elizabethton Cyclone ‘Betsy Band won the large class grand champions at the Karns Invitational over the weekend.

“It was awesome and we had a blast,” said band director Jonathan Valentine. “The kids were so thrilled to be performing again. Literally, half the seniors came off the field in tears because they were so excited because they missed the competition so much.”

Competing against six other bands in classes 4-A through 6-A, the band swept all categories in Class 5A in the competition including first place in color guard, first place in percussion, and first place band with a score of 82.9.

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They were also chosen as the People’s Choice winners and as Large Class Grand Champion.

“In my book, I felt that we had already won just getting the opportunity to perform, and then I knew it was going to be tough because there were a lot of big, good Knoxville bands there. Hardin Valley has a very good program; Bearden is very good; and Farragut was in our class and are very good,” Valentine said.

“A lot of the Maryville schools were down there in the class below us,” Valentine continued. “It was really cool to get to see some really good bands and see how we stack up. ”

Band members shared their excitement over returning to competition on social media and with friends and classmates.

“Competing at Karns High School was one of the most exciting experiences of my life,” said sophomore Drum Major Zada Hardin. “I have been looking forward to competing in the ‘Betsy Band since sixth grade.

“I missed out on my freshman year of the band but it was all worth the wait. I am so unbelievably proud of our performance on Saturday. This show is about overcoming obstacles, and I believe it is a reflection of the hard work we have put into this year.”

Those who had their first taste of band competition were simply amazed at the experience.

“To go to Karns and have a clean sweep and win every award we could have was an unreal experience,” said ‘Betsy Band color guard member Tori Frakes. “All of the time and work I put into color guard is paying off and it feels so good.

“There is no family like the band as we all support each other and motivate one another to work harder. We had to make a statement, and that is what we did.”

Sophomore Jon Shepard, a member of the trumpet line, said, “I think the closest word to the feelings that I had is exhilaration. While the show had its flaws, it definitely was an exhibition of all the blood, sweat, and tears we have put into this.”