Rhiannon Gudge, right, performs with the Tulane University marching band on Jan. 2 at the Cotton Bowl. (Photo by Tulane University)

Among those playing in front of 55,329 people at the 87th annual Cotton Bowl Classic on Jan. 2 in Dallas was a Philomath High School alum — not in a football uniform but as a member of the Tulane University marching band.

Rhiannon Gudge, who some may remember for her academic accomplishments and stage appearances at the local school (I remember her playing “Cinderella”), is the band’s flute and piccolo section leader.


Gudge didn’t hesitate to join Tulane’s marching band once she arrived on the New Orleans campus after earning her PHS diploma with the Class of 2019. She had been playing flute since the sixth grade and wanted to continue. Over the years, the band has performed in several interesting venues, such as football road games and in Mardi Gras parades.

“I think I just always wanted to learn how to play an instrument,” Gudge said when asked she first became interested in music. “I wanted to learn how to play violin, but you know, it’s a band at the middle school and not an orchestra so I picked flute because that was the second-most interesting instrument to me and I just kinda fell in love with it pretty fast.”

Making the Cotton Bowl trip even more fun was Tulane’s 46-45 come-from-behind upset victory over Southern Cal — the first major bowl win for the Green Wave since 1935.

The Tulane band arrived in Dallas on Dec. 29 in preparation for the game. The band members practiced at a high school football field in nearby Grapevine and went on various excursions in the area for some fun.

On the day before the game, the Tulane and USC bands participated in a “Battle of the Bands” event outside of the stadium.

“Both bands came and we performed a couple of songs that we play during our sets,” Gudge said. “We did a lot of audience interaction and since Tulane is from New Orleans, we threw out Mardi Gras beads — just trying to get everyone pumped up for the game the next day.”

The Tulane University marching band performs at the Cotton Bowl. (Photo provided by Erin Gudge)

In addition to the flute, Gudge also plays piccolo, a similar instrument that’s about half the size of a flute and plays an octave higher, she said.

Gudge has performed very well academically since embarking on her academic journey. She regularly earns a spot on Tulane University’s Newcomb-Tulane College dean’s list, which she accomplished again just recently for the fall semester.

She plans to graduate in May with a bachelor of science degree in neuroscience. Gudge plans to take a couple of gap years before applying to medical school with hopes of becoming a doctor.

2. Police department adds new officer

Jim Weikel smiles during a BCSO retirement event for him a few weeks ago. (Photo by Benton County Sheriff’s Office via Facebook)

Former Benton County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jim Weikel is now officially a part of the Philomath Police Department staff. Weikel brings 27 years of experience to Philomath Police.

Weikel retired from BCSO a little over a month ago. He joined the sheriff’s office in 1995 and after serving for two years as a reserve deputy, he advanced into a position as a full-time deputy.

“Deputy Weikel was an instrumental part of our K9 unit and SWAT team,” BCSO said in a Dec. 2 post on its Facebook page. “Weikel has served with duty, honor and courage all of his 27 years.”

Some folks may recall Weikel serving as the handler for his K-9 partner “Bus” (pronounced “Boos”), which he did for 10-1/2 years. The K-9 officer retired in 2016 and continued to live with Weikel.

Chiseled Spirit is now located at 1243 Main St. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

3. Local Crossfit business makes a move

Chiseled Spirit CrossFit in Philomath recently made a move to a new location. The workouts now take place at 1243 Main St., just west of North 13th on the other side of The Dizzy Hen. The gym had been located since its opening on Main between 18th and 19th.

I sat down for an interview with two of the three Chiseled Spirit co-owners not long after it opened in January 2020. One of the questions I had at the time was “what exactly is CrossFit? CrossFit’s definition can be summed up in the company’s slogan — “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.” Functional movements serve as a basis for the workouts with elements of gymnastics, weightlifting, cardio, running, rowing and more worked in.

My wife, Canda, is among those who work out at Chiseled Spirit. I’m not used to the idea of getting up before dawn to push myself to the limit in a gym but she enjoys the challenges and the benefits.

Best of luck to the business in its new location.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.