When the Marysville High School marching band takes the field this Saturday for the Buckeye Invitational marching band competition, members will do so knowing they has already secured a place in the Ohio Music Education Association state finals.

When the Marysville High School marching band takes the field this Saturday for the Buckeye Invitational marching band competition, members will do so knowing they has already secured a place in the Ohio Music Education Association state finals.

The band earned a Superior (I) rating at the recent Lancaster Band of Gold Invitational, the score needed to qualify for state finals. The marching Monarchs placed second overall of 14 bands at the contest, with the percussion section taking top honors.

Director Bill Thissen likes this for two reasons.

First, securing a spot early allows the band to be among the first to request a specific performance time during the two-weekend state finals. Second, it means less pressure on the rest of the season, particularly this weekend in Ohio Stadium, and hopefully more fun.

"We found last year that the judging was especially hard at Ohio State," Thissen said. "And it's a lot different than anything else we do or anyplace else we play. It's a big stadium."

The band takes the field at 5:15 p.m. The event starts at 10 a.m. (Fairbanks High School is first on the field) and closes with a performance by the OSU Marching Band at 6:15 p.m.

The band is led on the field by four field commanders: senior Darci Allen, the lone returning field commander; sophomore Carolynn Hester; senior Ethan Huey; and junior Stacia Yoakam.

This year's MHS contest show has a Spanish theme, titled "A Spanish Fantasy," and features a selection from Chick Corea's "My Spanish Heart," "Flower Song" from the opera "Carmen" and the classic Latin tune "Malaguea."

This year's band marches about 170 members, Thissen said, competing again in Class AA (the top class - OMEA divides its competition by high school student population).

The group has started to come into its own in the last few weeks, Thissen said.

"The kids have really worked hard and are really clicking," he said, adding, "Our strengths are in our percussion and low brass, where we have a lot of returning players."

Before performing at state finals, the band will also perform at two contests - at Springfield Shawnee and Tecumseh high schools - on Oct. 24.

Additionally, the band will perform Script Ohio during the MHS Homecoming game Oct. 9.

jfischer@thisweeknews.com