Color Guard is Going to Nationals


Emma Padelford

The Mountain Ridge Color Guard has won the state competition 6 times in the past, setting a record for the state of Arizona. Cari Eng has led the school’s Color Guard for 14 years. One of her goals has always been to take Guard to Nationals. However, in order to do so, Guard must perform at the Regional Competition, and they have recently done just that.

Last year, Guard went to the West Power Regionals in San Diego. Many groups that participated got to go to Nationals, so it was a good way for Eng to compare the Ridge Color Guard to the other groups to see how they would do if they went to Nationals. Luckily, Eng decided that her group would do well if they competed against the other color guards.


“We’ve finally got the right personnel,” says Eng. “We’ve got the right kids that can go, and that deserve to go, and they are not going to get their butts kicked.”


After lots of hard work and determination, the Mountain Ridge Color Guard is getting the opportunity to go to Nationals in Dayton, Ohio this April. This is a huge accomplishment for not only our guard, but for our school. This will be the first time Eng takes a group to Nationals, and it will be the first time anyone in our school district has gone. There have also only been 3 other high school color guards in the state of Arizona that have gone, and Mountain Ridge will be the 4th.


“We are really excited! Its nerve racking, and we are starting the planning process about 4 months earlier than we normally do. Just making sure that everything we do, including fall marching band, will prepare us for April,” Eng says.


When Nationals comes around, there will be about 600 groups from across the country that come and compete in 6 different classes of competition. The Ridge Guard sits in the middle class, or the “Open Class”, with about 150 others. For 3 days, Guard will compete in different competitions, and will or will not move up, depending on how they perform. First, they will compete in a preliminaries, then if they are successful, they will move onto the semifinals, and then to finals.


“It’ll just depend.  If we have a great run, we’ll keep going. If we choke, then alright, we are now spectators,” Eng states, with a smile.


In order to train and prepare for Nationals, Eng says that she won’t be changing too much with the training process, however, she will start incorporating more challenging choreography. In the past, she has tried to keep the choreography simple, so Guard could be awarded credits for their performance being in sync, and perfect. And in the past, she would rather have an easy show, and focus on the perfection of catching and throwing, than have a complicated show. But to boost their chances of winning, Eng will increase the difficulty of the performance, and will start preparing for it now, so the group can master both perfection and difficulty.


“We need to learn all the hard stuff now, so by the time April comes, all of that is easy for us, then we can be a bit more consistent and clean going on that Nationals stage,” Eng says.


Eng says that there may be some difficulty with new Guard members. This year, Guard had a lot of new students join. Eng knows that there will be many challenges with giving the new members a challenging start, but she is hoping that they will be able to work hard and pull through. She is also very proud of how her other students are holding up with the increased difficulty.


Eng looks forward to being able to represent our school and state at Nationals. She hopes that her group will be able to pull through and win, but is proud of them regardless of the outcome.


“It’s just really cool that we are first. I am really excited that no one in our district has done it before,” Eng says. “I think getting out of round 1 [the prelims] will be a huge victory, because no high school out of Arizona has gotten through round 1…So if we can be the 1st group in Arizona to get out of round 1 at Nationals, I’ll be happy.”