KHS Band Takes 22 Trophies at State Competition

Visit the Kearney High School band rooms if you want to know what success sounds like.

KHS band students turned a uniquely challenging year into an extraordinary achievement, earning medals in all 22 events they entered this year for the recent MSHSAA State Solo Ensemble Festival. Those remarkable results included eight gold medals, eight silver and six bronze.

Kearney High School senior Trystan Lickteig (PHOTO BY: Ray Weikal/Kearney School District)

This utter dominance at the state level came as no surprise to medalist Trystan Lickteig, a student-leader who served as drum major in the marching band. The KHS band finds its strength in diversity.

“Music brings everyone together regardless of their background. We leave everything at the door outside of band,” he said. “Our program has a lot of diversity. We take pride in that.”

Like every other element of teaching and learning, band teachers and students had to adapt radically and quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to KHS Band Director Chris Heil.

This spring, students were still prevented from performing and competing at in-person events. Instead, the students learned how to record their performances virtually and then submit them for competitions.

“We had several band students work through the winter and submit video recordings for the MSHSAA festival,” Heil said. “I am so proud of all these band students who did the extra work and persevered through a very difficult process.”

The pandemic was tough for band students, but Trystan was proud of how his classmates coalesced in the face of this challenge.

“Having to practice, perform and compete through COVID-19 has really brought us together as a band,” he said. “I’m grateful for that. We’re stronger and better as a result.”

This year’s success by the KHS band only reinforces the value of performing arts in public education, Trystan added.

“It activates multiple parts of the brain and actually helps you succeed in your other classes,” he said.

Trystan is headed to Truman State University this fall to study music education and clarinet performance. He’s leaving the KHS band in good hands and prepared for more success moving forward.

“I’m very confident about the future of band, especially post-pandemic,” he said. “We have directors who really know what they’re doing and they have great experience. And I know the students who will be here next year are incredibly talented and committed. I’ve had a lot of good opportunities to work with them and I know what they’re made of.”

Kearney High School 2021 MSHSAA State Solo Ensemble Festival Medalists

Chloe BonhamAlto SaxophoneGold
Joseph EwerBass ClarinetGold
Van McNuttBassoonGold
Trystan LickteigClarinetGold
Shelby HolstFluteGold
Anna JensenMarimbaGold
Shelby Holst, Madison Leighr, Trystan LickteigMixed Woodwind TrioGold
Benjamin RivasPianoGold
Liliana JacksonBb ClarinetSilver
Rachael Hallier, Makenna Becker, Parker MillsClarinet TrioSilver
Eleandra CooperFluteSilver
Hailey SohmFluteSilver
Abby ElamHornSilver
Isaiah KuraszPianoSilver
Chloe Bonham, Adam Hoffman, McKenna BrownSaxophone TrioSilver
AJ BultmannTrumpetSilver
McKenna BrownAlto SaxophoneBronze
Emma DanielClarinetBronze
Emma CobbFluteBronze
Emma Daniel, Ivy Tailor, Avery MorganMixed Woodwind TrioBronze
Cade BrundageTromboneBronze
Connor DoddTrumpetBronze