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2022 Review: Neosho claims western Missouri dominance, undefeated season

In advance of the 2022 show choir season, the status quo was primed to stay in place. That would be, for those unfamiliar with western Missouri show choir, Pleasant Hill on top and a gaggle of choirs, including Neosho, Joplin, Carthage and Webb City, competing for second place in the region.

Throughout the course of the season, however, the Neosho Choraleers would assert themselves as the top dog in the western part of Missouri, with only an unrealized matchup with Troy Buchanan standing in the way of checking all the boxes across Missouri.

Coming off of a 2021 season that included both virtual and in-person contests, Neosho traded close placements with all of the aforementioned groups, but most notably Carthage, as Choraleers lost to Soundwave in a 1st-2nd battle at both Northwest Missouri State and Joplin over the course of the year.

Neosho returned its creative team for the 2022 season, marking the group’s 12th year under the guidance of director Melanie Soule and choreographer Kacy Christensen, who works extensively with many Missouri groups.

Choraleers started off strong with a commanding vocals/choreo/band sweep at Pleasant Hill’s competition, also earning captions for show design, opening number, female soloist (Carly Patterson) and male soloist (Connor Jordan). The group clearly distanced itself from the rest of the finalists, which included Kansas’ Blue Valley BV Singers, in its first competition under the direction of Sam Dollins.

Perhaps the competition that showed that Neosho was legitimate in a big fashion was Joplin’s In The Spotlight, held on February 5. Choraleers had previously won the Joplin contest in 2015 and 2016, but had lost in recent years to groups including Carthage, Nevada and Broken Arrow. 2022 saw, once again, a stellar lineup, with Pleasant Hill making the trip down and Jenks making the trip up to Joplin. Broken Arrow was also slated to compete but dropped at the last minute due to weather. Most observers thought that the main competition to watch would be the well-oiled Pleasant Hill machine against one of Oklahoma’s two main competitive show choirs, always a wild card. Additionally, Carthage and Webb City competing figured to make Joplin one of Missouri’s deeper finals fields in 2022.

Prelim scores saw a bit of a shakeup, with Neosho leading the 5A division over Jenks, Webb City and Carthage. Pleasant Hill qualified for finals out of 4A and Mt. Vernon out of 3A, knocking out Nevada. Now, the focus had shifted – where did Neosho and Pleasant Hill stack up against each other? The answer was found in finals, where Neosho won another vocals/choreo/band sweep of awards, only letting the Hillside Singers claim the periphery caption awards Best Closer and Best Male Soloist.

After taking a week off, Choraleers swept again at Nevada, winning over two groups they already beat at Joplin – Webb City and Carthage. The southern Missouri circuit moved to Carthage the following week, where the Choraleers took home yet another grand championship. This time, they split captions with Webb City. Neosho took home vocals and Webb City took home choreography, the only time in the 2022 season that Choraleers did not take both the vocals and choreography captions.

Neosho rounded out its winning ways at Platte County, taking six captions on their way to a grand championship over Carthage. Eric Bebie was named the Best Male Soloist, and the group took home vocals, choreography, band, crew, and closer captions. Even with 11 total captions awarded at the competition, Neosho took a majority of the captions at the competition, an astounding display of talent and craftsmanship.

Looking ahead to 2023, the group is primed for another big season. Soule and Christensen are both returning to the group, which will host its annual fall festival on November 5, 2022. Its competition schedule for the upcoming season includes stops at Missouri staple competitions Pleasant Hill, Joplin, Nevada, Carthage and Platte County, and also includes a trip to Illinois to compete at the Decatur Premier Choice Invitational, held at Millikin University, on March 18.

Regardless of 2023, Neosho’s 2022 season will go down as one for the record books, and it is one that will be remembered for a long time in Missouri and many other places.

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