Centerville Senior High School’s Blue Wave color guard started celebrating on Saturday and continued making waves in to Sunday morning. First responders blared sirens and provided an escort of the group’s bus as it arrived at 12:37 a.m. Tired but happy team members gathered by the sign that had been put up encouraging them to win Indiana High School Color Guard Association’s state competition. 

They had. 

Centerville finished first in the Hagen Division, which was one of six Regional A division titles awarded Saturday, March 9, at Franklin Central. The Blue Wave’s score, 83.880, was the second-highest of the 69 competitors. Brownsburg earned 86.360. 

Centerville school leaders and families quickly shared the joyous news on social media and gathered to meet the bus.

The Centerville bus arrives home after their win. Photo by DAJO Photos

“It was surprising and amazing, and I was just happy to see them perform,” said Alison Withers, who watched children Benjamin, a senior, and Anna, a junior, in the guard. “I was very proud and glad to see them do so well.” 

Principal Tim Hollendonner, using the hashtag #ProudPrincipal, wrote he “Couldn’t be happier for you!” He noted all the hard work and late nights of practice had paid off. 

The start of the Centerville color guard team’s performance, “Knowledge is Power”. Photo by DAJO Photos

Centerville earned 83.880, surpassing a prior champion, Franklin Central, with 80.520.

Other competitors in Hagen Division were Plainfield, Crawfordsville, Mater Dei, Jay County, Bedford North Lawrence, New Castle (finishing eighth with 66.860), Homestead, Pendleton Heights, Northridge and Wayne. 

Lisa Mullen directs the Blue Wave’s show, called “Knowledge is Power.” 

“It was probably the biggest whirlwind and train wreck all rolled into one,” Mullen said about the season. 

Mike Stephens of Brownsburg, who had written Centerville’s show for the 12 years that Mullen has directed the guard, unexpectedly suffered a stroke and died shortly before Thanksgiving at age 53. 

The Blue Wave’s show wasn’t yet completed. Fortunately, another writer, Charles Combs, finished it the second week of January and provided changes as the season progressed.

Mullen said the students worked hard, adapted to learning in a different way and kept improving. Performers implemented the last show change about a week before the state finals, six hours before that competition.  

Sophomore Lizzie Nevels performs during the state competition at Franklin Central. Photo by DAJO Photos

She called the win “a fabulous miracle.”

“It’s a testament to how talented and wonderful these kids are,” Mullen said. “I tell them that every day.” 

Mullen juggles color guard instruction with her employment as a surgical instrument tech for Reid Health.

She calls the Blue Wave a family and values the relationships she’s built with the many participants through the years. She’s grateful when they come back to see her or assist. 

Centerville’s five seniors were still a bit stunned by their victory. 

Guard Captain Sydney Miles said when she joined, Blue Wave was 16th in the state, then had to shut down for the pandemic and then regroup. 

“For this to be my last season, it doesn’t feel real,” Miles said. “It’s pretty exciting.”

This was the first and last year in guard for Ashlyn Bullock. She said it was a lot of work but a good experience, and winning state made it really memorable. Bullock had helped Blue Wave with props for the last two years before friends recruited her to join. 

John Clarkston joined three years ago, when the Blue Wave made it to semistate. 

“Now making it to state and being state champion doesn’t feel real,” Clarkston said. 

Flag Captain Ben Withers said the group has matured a lot in the last four years, and those changes have been positive. 

“It’s beautiful to see a younger group of people take charge and I’m excited to see what happens in the future,” Withers said.  

Centerville’s Blue Wave members show off their championship banners and medals. Photo by DAJO Photos

Alaina Reece appreciates the opportunity to make friends and memories while in Blue Wave during junior and senior years.

“I will remember the people and the song,” Reece said. “At the beginning, I thought it was such a goofy song and kiddish, but I grew to not hate it, and I’m one with the song now. It’s taken over my life.”    

Connersville and Winchester also were among Saturday’s Regional A competitors. Winchester was eighth in its division (66.400). Connersville was 10th in its division (63.780).

A few hours earlier, Hagerstown’s Tigerettes brought home a gold rating in IHSCGA’s festival class, which competed at Decatur Central High School. Sixteen schools earned gold and two received silver. Hagerstown Police provided an escort from Indiana 38 to the school. 

Centerville will move up to A class next year.  Championships for A, open and world will be determined March 16.

At the March 2 state preliminaries, Centerville won its division with 78.800. Blue Wave finished .800 higher than the Greenwood A Irish Guard that day. 

The Blue Wave had the second-highest score of the 69 Regional A guards. Brownsburg was highest (81.460).

Area scores were New Castle (63.680), Winchester (61.780) and Connersville (59.860).

On Feb. 24, Blue Wave came in second to Greenwood in its round by .100 with 71.320. Westfield had the day’s highest score (74.680). New Castle received 61.760 and Winchester scored 62.520. Weekly results are posted at

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A version of this article appeared in the March 13 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.