OGDEN -- Zombies, race car drivers and pink-cheeked "tin" soldiers clattered toward Ogden High School's new gym Saturday, struggling with their snare and bass drums, their marimbas and their cymbals.
Saturday was the season's first competition of the Utah Winter Drumline Association, which featured rhythmic music and graceful precision marching.
Groups performed numbers with themes including racetracks, the undead and the "Nutcracker" ballet.
"We have a bigger audience and more groups than ever," said UWDA President Tyler Hess. "We have 13 groups in competition, with nine here. Last year, we finished with seven."
Spring will bring marching band season, but indoor drumlines give students a chance to test the waters as novices, or to keep their existing skills sharp.
Weber High School student Anthony Roybal, 15, said the benefits are well worth getting up at 7 a.m. on Saturdays for practice.
"I don't see it as hard work. I like this. It's easy to get up if you are doing something exciting. And when you hit it, it sounds beautiful."
Danyelle Ghan, 16, also a member of the Weber High group, said she enjoys the music and the social aspect of drumline.
"Band is a place where everybody is family. Nobody is left out. This is my first year, but I'm already more outgoing. I used to be so shy."
Andrew Wood, the visual performance judge and a music major at Weber State University, said participating in marching band and California's Blue Devils Drum & Bugle Corps has shaped his life in positive ways.
"It has helped me with every single aspect of my life," said the 23-year-old.
"You gain so much discipline. I set higher standards for myself and for those people I associate with. I learned to fix things immediately, so things keep getting better, which has helped me in work and in my relationships."
Music enthusiasts and proud parents cheered for each group, and bands cheered for each other. And the final scores?
In the Scholarship A category, first place went to Ogden High School (81.5 points); second to Bountiful's Viewmont High (73.4); third to Tooele's Stansbury High (71.7); and fourth to Pleasant View's Weber High (65.5).
In the Scholastic Open category, Kaysville's Davis High placed first (84.5 points); Spanish Fork's Maple Mountain High took second (74.1); and Grantsville High took third (73.5).
And in the Independent Open category, the South County Percussions took first (89.4 points); and Weber State University took second (86.7).