The Valdosta High School Marching Cats returned to band competition after a three-year hiatus and came away with two overall awards in their division and superiors for performance. The band competed in the 26th Annual Phenix Invitational Marching Festival and Contest, held Saturday at Garrett-Harrison Stadium in Phenix City, Alabama.

Competing in the AAA division for medium-sized bands, the band scored three superiors in both the festival and contest competitions and took third place overall in their division.

The dance line took overall first place honors in the division.

Festival competition is when a band receives a score from judges for evaluation purposes only. Contest competition is when a band is judged against competitors.

The percussion, dance line and color guard took superiors in both competitions while the drum majors took superior in festival and excellent in contest.

“I am very pleased with our progress,” said Marching Cat Director Michael Thomas, “it was one of our goals this year to return to competition. The band has done so well in recent weeks that it was decided to enter the contest as well as the festival competitions.”

The band performed this year’s program, “The Best and the Worst of American Idol,” featuring the signature songs of Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Bo Bice and William Hung. The program also included a portable stage on which “Idol” impersonators perform.

The band returned to Valdosta around 2 a.m. Sunday and was greeted by waiting families cheering and holding signs.

The Marching Cats are led by Band Director Michael Thomas and Assistant Band Director Andrew Hill. They are assisted by Valdosta Middle School Band Directors Gary Bradley and Travis Downs and J.L. Newbern Director Kurt Kimbrough. The percussion instructor is Ted Turner, the color guard instructor is Jennifer McKinley and the dance line instructor is Karen Cook.

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