I would love for a Southern group to make finals, but it's going to be very tough. Last season, NWR beat JA who beat Grenada, so based on that, NWR may have the best chance at finals. I do expect great things from both JA and Grenada this coming season though, and either of them could definitely sneak into finals here.
If it’s super close, it’ll come down to the judging panel. I don’t like the narrative of politics in show choir outcomes (and this contest largely avoids such controversy anyways). However, since it is a subjective activity, it can more easily influenced by personal preferences, implicit biases, etc.
Last year’s contest is a great example. Homewood and Linn Marr were super close, and North Central, Mt. Zion, and Oak Mountain were super close. Judging panel had two Mississippi judges (Dave Fehr and Shanna Luckett), two Iowa judges (Steve Woodin and Anne Chapman), and one judge that is multi-regional (Tori Brindis). How did the judges score/vote? In finals, Homewood’s two first place votes came from the two Mississippi judges, and Linn Marr’s three first place votes came from the two Iowa judges plus Tori Brindis. In prelims, Oak Mountain was placed in finals by the two Mississippi judges, and placed in seventh by the two Iowa judges plus Tori Brindis.
This is an interesting conversation. I have seen similar regional similarities in previous years that I have attended, but this isn't set in stone. In 2018, Anne Chapman was visually more similar to David Fehr than Steve Woodin. Steve and Anne also did not judge vocals similarly that year.
I think it's more about what each region looks for. Iowa judges really value vocals over anything else. If you don't sing well, you won't do as well as a group who sings great, but maybe isn't the most clean, or doesn't have the most exciting show. Conversely, the southern judges seem to appreciate show designs and great choreography. I see this in consistently high visual scores for Findlay at SCN. They tend to get a big bump from the southern judges. On the other hand, we (CR Washington) have always had our lowest rankings come from southern judges, yet CR Kennedy is typically scored well by David Fehr. In this case, I wouldn't be surprised if it came down to North Central's solid vocals comparing to Oak Mountain's unique show and choreography.
And then lastly, we must remember that the SCN scoresheet does award more points to vocals/music than choreography and show design/"other". When you combine choreography and the show design, it is about equal to vocals, but the show design category scores are usually pretty equal between groups, when you look from year to year. This favoring of vocals does tend to help Midwestern groups over Southern groups. Exceptions include Homewood (2018 and 2023) and Oak Grove (2014) and those groups sang huge.
Bloomington Expressive Arts Training "Amplitude"
Brownsburg "Spotlight Singers & Company"
Center Grove "Sound System"
Findlay "First Edition"
Glenwood "Titan Fever"
Jackson Academy "Encore"
Cedar Rapids Kennedy "Happiness Inc."
Manchester "Capital Swing"
Noblesville "NHS Singers"
Northwest Rankin "The Ambassadors"
Brownsburg "Starlight Voices"
Center Grove "Debtones"
Fairfield "Pure Elegance"
Manchester "Touch of Swing"
Noblesville "New Dimension"
Northwest Rankin "The Allure"
This is already looking like it will be a major showdown once again among the Illinois/Indiana/Ohio schools! So far it looks like these schools will be attending.... If anybody knows of others, please share!