• Stew-pendous: KHS grad Kitchen to return as Ohio State drum major

    • Photo and Article By DAN ROBINSON, Times staff writer

    COLUMBUS: The competition was close, but Kenton High School graduate Stew Kitchen will be returning to lead the Ohio State Marching Band as drum major for another year.

    The temperature on the Woody Hayes Practice Field was 91 degrees as the OSU band warmed up for the competition between four students who hoped to lead the band onto next fall's football field.

    The competition was divided into three segments; the entrance, twirling and aerials.

    Kitchen, who was last year's drum major, was the first of the four to take the field. A large number of Kenton High School fans and friends cheered Kitchen on from the sidelines as he strutted across the field, stopped and did the traditional back bend. As a veteran, Kitchen was doing the same opening he performed several times last fall.

    The field of four candidates quickly dropped to three when Henry Golatt made his entrance and collapsed on the field. He lay motionless in the heat for several minutes as trainers came to his assistance. It was later announced Golatt had recovered, but he lost his spot in the competition.

    Throughout the contest, it became apparent to the crowd from Kenton there would be competition for Kitchen from freshman Josh Halter. Not only did the Hebron native perform impressively, but he, like Kitchen, brought his own cheering section.

    At the end of the three segments, the judges who sat on the artificial turf of the football practice facility, tallied their scores. As the band played, the Kenton fans were cautiously optimistic. Kitchen had dropped his baton once in his twirling routine and again in the aerials, but his performance had included back flips and an array of strong physical moves.

    "My tryout didn't go as well as last year," said Kitchen as he waited for the judges' results. "I got too confident in the easy stuff. They (the drops) were flukes, but I think overall it was effective. I hope my experience showed."

    On the sidelines, talk among the Kenton crowd was confident, but realistic. Halter looked good, said several. They recalled last year¹s competition when Kitchen, as a freshman, surprised everyone and took the top spot from returning veterans.

    "Last year Stew had nothing to lose and everything to gain,² said his father, Chris. ³This year it is the opposite."

    As the judges presented their decision to the announcer, Kitchen stood between Halter and Sam Heinold, a sophomore from Cincinnati, to hear the results.

    Halter was named assistant and Kitchen would return as drum major.

    " I'm relieved it's over," said Kitchen. "I hope to start where I left off and build on that."

    "It was close, but I thought Stew would win," said Jack Buroker of Kenton after the announcement. "Stew had more pizzazz."

    "Stew just has that special spark," agreed Sally Ganger of Kenton. "He has charisma."

    "He makes us all proud," said his former high school band director Steve Ganger. "This lets kids know they can set goals and reach them with hard work. That is true for any kid."

    Sally Ganger said when she asks her sixth grade students to write about someone they admire, Kitchen is often the subject of several papers.

    "I was more nervous this year than last year", said Kitchen¹s mom, Mitzi. "I'm just happy Stew gets to live his dream one more year."