Belleville West senior sings National Anthem at West boys state tourney
Miles Wadlington sang through series of auditions for the chance to perform the "Star Spangled Banner" at the IHSA Class 4A state championship game.
He had no idea at the time, however, his powerful baritone would tip-off a historic victory for his own school.
The Belleville West senior auditioned his way out of the Illinois Music Educators Association district festival to then compete with 52 other students from 13 other Illinois districts. Wadlington's state-championship rendition of the national anthem was fitting prelude to what his classmates would do on the Carver Arena court at the Peoria Civic Center.
"As we were rehearsing at school, my teachers were talking about 'wouldn't it be great if West was playing at state?'" Wadlington said. "It was great. It was just great to be able to do that for my school and our team."
Wadlington is a professed basketball fan, too. His greatest challenge was rooting on the Maroons without doing damage to his vocal chords.
"Whenever I go to the basketball games I have to calm myself down so I don't scream too much," he said. "My mom has a recipe for a throat remedy that's supposed to protect your voice. She had a whole half gallon of it in the fridge when I got home and it's pretty much gone."
The national anthem performance was shown on Carver Arena's four-sided scoreboard monitors. It drew enthusiastic applause and fist bumps from fans, media and tournament volunteers as he walked off the floor, smiling broadly.
The experience's crowning reward, he said, was riding with the team on top of a Belleville fire engine during Sunday's victory parade.
"(West Principal Richard) Mertens called my choir teacher in the middle of the night and told her to see if I wanted to ride with the team. I was like 'yeah!'" Wadlington said. "I sat next to (Maroons' all-state forward) EJ Liddell on the fire truck. That was pretty neat."
Wadlington is a member of the Belleville West base choir and Maroon Magic, a 32-member choir that performs throughout the community.
"We do events downtown, the naturalization ceremony and at assisted living centers at stuff like that," he said. "It's probably my favorite thing to do."
He also plays alto sax in the marching and symphonic bands at West and performs with the Artist in Training program through Opera Theater of St. Louis. His jazz fusion band, Tangent, plans to record an album at Gaslight Studios in St. Louis this April.
Wadlington has narrowed his college choices between Webster University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he says he plans to major in vocal performance.