Each band is scored up to 100 points and a band that wins top honors must get at least 90 points. Last year, the GW band entered the competition, but was not chosen, something Hardman said is healthy for student musicians.
"For several years, being named an honor finalist was sort of an expectation," he said. Losing is something that makes students humble and encourages them to work harder, something Hardman tries to teach his pupils.
"Everyone has greatness inside," he said. "It's just about tapping into it."
During Roberts' freshman year, the GW band also won top honors, but this most recent win is special.
"It's a good way to have everything end," the graduating senior said.
Roberts said he'll miss many things about GW when he moves on.
"Aside from making music, there is a really good community of people," he said of his band mates. And although the students actually played the music that won them top honors, Roberts said a lot of credit lies with Hardman.
"As hard as we work, he works harder," Roberts said. "That is a large part of our success."
Among other standard concert-band fare, the GW band played "Chorus Angelorum" by Samuel R. Hazo, which was written in honor of a grandmother and grandson killed in a Maryland car crash in 2005.
"It's very emotional for the students," Hardman said.
To keep the playing field level, GW cannot enter the competition next year, but Vandall said the bar to be the best has definitely been raised.
"It's big shoes to fill," she said, "but it's exciting to have the challenge."
Reach Kathryn Gregory at kathr...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.