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Mahomet-Seymour's Amanda Williams and other winter color guard members perform earlier this month at a girls' junior varsity basketball game.

Those who attend high school football games are usually familiar with the color guard performance during halftime.

And the Bulldogs have as good a squad as any school in the area.

What fans may not be as familiar with is the color guard's sister team: winter guard.

"I am not sure when the last time Mahomet had a winter guard," Bulldog color guard coach Kari Marino said, "and I don't believe they competed with it. All I have been told is that it has been a long time."

Well, this season, the Bulldogs fielded a winter guard squad of 26 performers — all of whom were members of the fall color guard.

And despite the lack of practices and practice space, the Bulldogs placed third in the Tall Flag and Lyrical Flag routines at the state competition at the Bank of Springfield Convention Center on Feb. 9.

Unlike traditional color guard, winter guard is an indoor sport derived from military ceremonies or veterans organization ceremonies and is performed to recorded music rather than live bands.

Marino had to make the most of only seven practices for the team.

"The (Bulldogs) not only qualified their routines on the first time for the state competitions, but did so with determination and pride," Marino said. "The guard continues to entertain audiences with their story of the music."

The team competed with the Illinois Drill Team Association with a Tall Flag routine to "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons, building off the theme of the marching band show in the fall.

"We also added a Lyrical Flag routine two weeks into the season for part of the guard to the song 'Battlefield' by Lea Michele," Marino said.

The winter guard started practice Jan. 7 and competed in three competitions, including state.

"We practiced twice a week," Marino said. "One night we used the gym at Middletown-Prairie, the other night we practiced in the high school band room."

Teams compete throughout December and January, trying to achieve a state qualification score.

The Bulldogs' first competition was in Mattoon on Jan. 27.

At that competition, Mahomet-Seymour qualified its "Radioactive" Tall Flag routine for the state competition. Routines must score at least an 80 to qualify for state.

The Tall Flag routine can use any piece of music with the focus being on the movement and choreography.

The team's second competition was in Highland on Feb. 2.

At that competition, the Bulldogs debuted their "Battlefield" routine and qualified the Lyrical Flag routine for state as well.

Lyrical flag can also use any piece of music, but focuses on fluid movements and emotions throughout the routine.

"I look forward to continuing this winter guard journey with MSHS and continuing to build the program," Marino said. "Before we got off the bus from our state competition, they were already talking about fall guard."