The Sultana High School drum line is so good, it might be unfair for them to compete in their original division.


At the American Drum Line Association competition at Kaiser High School in Fontana on Feb. 18, judges gave the students the boot in a good way.


"Not only did the drum line take first place in their division (Scholastic C) and beat the 2nd place group by 10 points, but they were also promoted to Scholastic B, the next division up, due to their excellent performance," said Joe Costantino, Sultana's new Director of Bands. "It has been over six years since Sultana's drum line has competed in any ADLA division higher than Scholastic C. ... I know firsthand the thrill of being promoted, for all the judges to say, 'Wow, you know what, you are too good to be competing in your current division, you get to move up,' and am glad that my students now know what that feeling and experience is like."


Any fears the band had that they might now be in over their heads were dashed a week later, at the Feb. 25 ADLA competition at Littlerock High School, when the 18-member drum line won first place again. The school's Winter Color Guard line also took first place in their first competition on Feb. 26.


"To win these competitions was an extremely big deal," said drum captain Dylan Lopez. "I have never experienced receiving first place, or being moved up into a tougher division."


"We started fresh this season with a new band director and he put so much time and effort into this drum line," said pit captain Angel Perez. "We worked our butts off and it really paid off."


Costantino credits new percussion instructor Alex Gray and the pair's combined dozen years of teaching drum lines for part of the line's success this year.


"But most importantly, I think much of the credit for the group's success goes to the talented student performers they're giving up a lot and putting in a lot of their time, energy and money into this season and doing what they love," Costantino said. "Although they may not think it now, they can look back on the line in four, five years, once they've all graduated, and say, 'You know, I helped to build that. I helped shape that line into what it is today, and now a new generation of young musicians will benefit from and live up to the standards that I helped to set.' To me, that's what this is all about setting the standard, challenging all those who come after them to meet or exceed that standard, and the sense of pride and accomplishment of knowing they did all they could to leave a long-lasting legacy, have a positive impact and create a high standard for the school and all the Sultans that walk through the band room doors."


The drum line will have more chances to strut their stuff this spring, with competitions on Saturday at Costa Mesa High School, March 31 at Valencia High School and April 21 preliminaries for ADLA championships at Riverside King High School. If the drum line qualifies, they'll be competing at Costantino's alma mater, A.B. Miller High School in Fontana.


"We thought we'd do well, but never this good," Lopez said. "Our first competition's score was higher than anything we got all last year's second semester. That blew my mind and everyone else's, too."


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.