PACE — The Pride of the Red White and Blue marching band from Pace High School dominated the competition in every single category at the Gulf Coast Invitational held in Biloxi, Mississippi, recently.

"Most of the competition was from the states of Louisiana and Mississippi," said Anthony Denaro director of bands at Pace High School.

The Pace band was crowned Grand Champions in the competition, which took place Sept. 28.

Additionally, the band brought home Best in Class trophies for percussion, guard, visual, general effect, and music. The band also received Best Overall trophies for percussion, guard, visual, general effect, and music.

Denaro has been band director at Pace for 10 years. The Ohio native had just finished graduate school at Ohio State University when he applied for and was offered the job at Pace.

"The offer had a lot of potential," Denaro said about accepting the position.

The student leadership roles for the 2019-2020 school year fell on the shoulders of Katie Hilliard, drum major, and band captains Ruth Root, Stevie Townsend and Julian Paciaroni.

"The drum major conducts the band as they play music," Hilliard said.

"Band captains are the behind the scene people that make sure everything goes the way it supposed to go," Paciaroni added.

The performance at the competition is the same as what you see during the halftime show of any Patriot football game. A nine-minute long performance that incorporates music, marching, props, dancers, and flag bearers, according Root and Townsend.

"We started practicing in June," Denaro said.

The students said they have practiced this routine for over 100 hours.

"You have to learn the fundamentals of music for your instrument and learn how to play that instrument while marching," Paciaroni said.

There is also learning how to march a certain way - by rolling your feet, he said.

The band's next competition will be the Hurricane Classic at West Harrison High School in Gulfport, Mississippi, on Oct. 19. The band will also march in local parades for Veterans Day, homecoming and Christmas.

The Pace band will also perform in the Disney World parade on Nov. 23 in Orlando.

The students said they enjoyed the competitions more than performing the halftime shows.

"I like competing more. There's a certain type of energy that you can just feel in the air and there's intensity around everyone and that feeling right before you're about to compete and you know that you're about to give it your all," Hilliard said. "It's an amazing type of feeling and its really exiting."