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GALLAGHER: Sheldon band survives 'hairy' predicament

GALLAGHER: Sheldon band survives 'hairy' predicament

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SHELDON, Iowa | More than 10 percent of Cliff St. Clair's marching band at Sheldon High School landed on the injured list this fall.

Gage Karolczak rolled his car twice on the way to practice. He escaped with a pulmonary contusion and a broken wrist.

Autumn Wahl popped five ribs out of place during a tenor drums performance Friday.

Junior Christina DeKok missed marching with her mellaphone last fall due to a broken foot. Because the fracture didn't heal, DeKok needed surgery. She delayed the procedure, which allowed her to limp through four football halftime shows and four marching band competitions this season.

Ashley Presthus, a senior, used a sling while hauling her tenor sax following shoulder surgery.

There were other shoulder injuries and back spasms.

A physical mishap that doesn't go down as an official injury unfolded a few Friday nights ago when Jena Van Marel, a member of the color guard, had her hair caught in the trombone of senior Scott Stallmann.

It came during the final 30 seconds of Sheldon's rousing Cirque de Soliel show, "Ka." The song? "Battlefield." Appropriate.

"The color guard was moving through the band when I realized I couldn't move any further," said Van Marel, a sophomore. "I didn't know why, but I was marching left and my head was being pulled to the right."

Took all of two eighth-notes for Stallmann, marching a step behind Van Marel, to realize they were caught in a "hairy" predicament.

"The valve for my water release key got caught in her hair," he said. "Her hair got wrapped in the spring. I pulled gently on my valve to get it out, but that made things worse."

Each time Stallmann slid the valve, more of Van Marel's brunette locks became entangled. And the show marched on. (As I interviewed the pair, I kept thinking: Carol Burnett, Tim Conway.)

"I had my hair in a French braid and since the braids overlap, with each pull it was getting tighter," Van Marel said. Ouch!

"I couldn't figure out which band member we had following one of the flags so closely," said Cliff St. Clair, Sheldon High School's director of bands. "I was watching from the press box upstairs and I knew that's not how we're supposed to end the show."

Knowing she couldn't free herself, Van Marel urged Stallmann to follow her. "If I would have followed Scott, we would have had a flag completely out of place for the end of the show," she said. "You can't hide a flag."

She told Stallmann to crouch behind her flag at the show's conclusion.

It then took several members of the color guard to work her hair from his horn.

St. Clair and members of the band were in "knots" about it moments after the show. Thankfully, it happened during a football halftime march and not a juried competition.

Sheldon's band, after all, set records this autumn by sweeping every category at Algona (Iowa) Band Day, a feat never before accomplished. The 75-member marching band also brought home trophies from places like Marshall, Minn. (first place), and on Saturday in Orange City, Iowa, where the Orabs placed second in Class 2A, behind Sibley-Ocheyedan High School.

"Through the injuries we had this year, the kids really toughed it out and made it through to the end," said St. Clair.

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