Several Indiana high school and middle school guards, including previous national champion Avon High School, displayed their talents before six judges.
North Putnam was among seven squads in the AA Division. They placed fifth with their routine, which carried a theme of the number three. The squad performed to Sinead O'Connor's "Three Babies."
The North Putnam Middle School Guard was the only unit to perform in the cadet class. Their show, "Grace Kelly," earned a silver rating.
Guard is about more than the ability to catch a twirling flag or staying on count.
"We are individuals who have fun together," said Katlyn Lawyer, a North Putnam senior and four-year guard member.
Lawyer went on to say guard has also helped her improve scholastically. Academics come first, and if one girl is having trouble in a class, another is there to help -- even if it means giving up some practice time.
Their dedication to helping each other goes beyond the books.
"They came focused, ready to go and it showed," said assistant instructor and cadet director Brianna Pinson.
The group gave up a part of their warm-up time for other teams, which could "make or break" their routine, each girl noted.
"We were being good hosts," they laughed.
The girls plan to stay focused and add the ending to their routine by next Saturday's competition at Pike High School in Indianapolis.
All 11 members of the North Putnam Winter Guard -- Drew Harris, Lawyer, Kirstin Mindiola, Amber Jones, Jennifer Ashmore, Jazzie Mimms, Andrea Higgins, Sami Robinson, Pandel Ludwig, Chelsea Davis and Carrie Hull -- work hard on and off the floor. Guard is a program not funded by the school, leaving them to find their own sponsors.
When sponsors cannot be found or they back out, the girls and their families dig into their own pockets to continue the program they love.
"Without our sponsors, we couldn't do what we do," said Pinson. "We are very proud of our girls and their hard work."
Winter guard competitions will continue every Saturday at different host schools until Divisional and State finals in March.
Winter guard is known as the "Sport of the Arts." It is an indoor color guard activity, derived from the outdoor summer activity that is commonly part of marching band. Unlike color guards, which perform outdoors on a football field, winter guard is performed indoors, usually in a gym or indoor arena, during the winter season.
Guards perform to a recording of various musical genres. A winter guard unit performs using dance and various pieces of equipment. While guard equipment can vary, flags, rifles and sabres are the most common pieces of equipment.
The competition is sanctioned by the Indiana High School Color Guard Association.