UNION CITY -- The James Logan High School Concert Band has defeated several schools from around the nation to capture the student percussion championship.

The 23-student squad, led by Logan percussion instructor Vince Oliver, won the title in dramatic fashion in a competition held April 18-20 in Dayton, Ohio.

"I've seen many of these students since they were in elementary school, and it's great to see them be so successful as upper classmen," Oliver said.

His Union City students were in fourth place going into the final day of competition at the WGI Percussion World Championships, making it likely that the trip would end in disappointment for them. "No group had ever gone from fourth to first," he said.

Given their long odds, Oliver gathered his squad for a pep talk moments before the band took the stage for their last performance.

"Mr. Oliver told us that regardless of what happens, he couldn't have asked for a better year and that he was happy for us," said Connie Truong, a Logan 12th-grade student.

Truong and her teammates then played an Oliver original composition titled "Sacred Ritual," which is about a boy's journey up a mountain in order to prove himself a man. They used all types of percussion instruments -- including cymbals, xylophones, timpani and an assortment of drums -- to give their best performance yet, allowing them to dream a little of an unlikely victory.


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The judges, basing their scores on the categories of artistry and performance, made that dream a reality.

"Did we go crazy? Oh, yeah," said Truong, who plays the marimba. "Jumping so many places from one performance was very unexpected."

Oliver, a Logan teacher for the past 10 years, said he was "shocked and excited" when his students took home the top prize. "It's part of the transcendent joy of teaching," he said. "It's why we do this, and I'm super proud of the students."