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2023's Biggest Winners (Part 2)

Winning isn’t everything in show choir. In fact, it is far from it. The camaraderie, opportunity for continuous improvement and adrenaline rush are all vital parts of the activity. Additionally, only a fraction of the circuit – those competing in the top division – regularly have a chance to win overall grand championships.

In that same vein, winning the most competitions in a year is not the end all, be all either. Clinton Attaché, widely regarded as the consistently best show choir in the United States, only competes three times a year. This effectively eliminates any chance at them being the group with the most wins.

However, to give credit where it is due, here are the most frequent winners of the 2023 season! This is the second in a three-part series highlighting winners by state during the 2023 show choir season.

Massachusetts – Waltham Music Unlimited (2 – Daniel Hand, Bishop Hendricken)

Waltham came out swinging in 2022, winning four competitions en route to the top of the New England show choir scene. While Daniel Hand had more success on paper in 2023, Music Unlimited still remained on the top of the pile in Massachusetts. Waltham lost to Daniel Hand in three straight contests to start off the season before finally breaking through at VIBE’s home contest, scoring a statement win over Loveland, one of Ohio’s top programs. They were almost stunningly on the bottom of prelims at an absolutely loaded Heart of America Nashville, placing seventh and missing finals. In their final competition of the season, Music Unlimited took a split-caption win over Tantasqua at Bishop Hendricken. While it was closer than they probably would have liked, Waltham remains the only choir ever to be grand champion of a show choir contest in Rhode Island, having also won the Rhody Rumble in 2022.

Michigan – Grosse Pointe South Pointe Singers (1 – Walsh Jesuit)

Following Vince Matia’s first season at the helm that saw Pointe score a surprising podium finish at Churubusco, the season started off with a bang. GPS went to Walsh Jesuit, a school in northeastern Ohio that Matia is an alumni of and was a former assistant director at. Going into the competition, Medina Encore Entertainment Company was expected to win, but Pointe Singers pulled away to the top score in prelims and held on in finals to take both the vocals and choreography captions and a first-place trophy. From there, GPS was fourth at Solon behind three Ohio stalwarts (Findlay, Marysville and ETC) and beat Medina again. To round out the season, Pointe Singers was the first group out of finals at Heart of America Nashville, right behind Mitchell and two places ahead of Waltham.

Minnesota – Bloomington Kennedy Rhythm in Gold and Hastings Riverside Company (3 each)

Minnesota’s two three-win groups are about the exact opposites in how they got there. Hastings has been a perennial power for the better part of a quarter-century and followed up a three-win 2022 season with more of the same in 2023. Their triumphs came at Waukee Northwest, North St. Paul and Totino-Grace over the likes of Ankeny Centennial, Waubonsie Valley, Bemidji and Cedar Rapids Jefferson. Riverside’s remaining contests were a second at Bloomington Kennedy and a fourth at Show Choir Nationals, which is a win anywhere else. Bloomington Kennedy had won only once since 2018 and had a rather dark set in 2022. Nikki Jordan and Kevin Chase brewed up a Moulin Rouge set for 2023 that set the upper Midwest on fire, taking wins at West Salem, Eau Claire Memorial and Waconia to start of the year. While the wins died off from there, RIG never fell off the podium, bagging a third at Hastings, second at Cedar Rapids Jefferson and another runner-up at the FAME National Finals.

Mississippi – Brandon Brio (4 – Jackson Prep, Enterprise, Petal, Madison Central)

For a group that had four total wins before the 2020 season, Brio has got to be the singular breakout group of the past half-decade. A three-win 2020 season put the program on the national map, and the success continued with four wins in 2022. While Brio cleaned up most of the Jackson metro, detractors will note that it did not win against Clinton at Northeast Jones and didn’t match up against Petal all year. While a Petal-Brandon showdown would’ve been nice, there was a Wheaton Warrenville South-Brandon showdown, which Brio took in convincing fashion with all three big captions. When the only two groups you lose to all year are Clinton and Center Grove, it’s been a great year.

Missouri – Neosho Choraleers and Troy Buchanan Express (3 each)

Like Minnesota, Missouri’s two three-win choirs feature a large power and an emerging power. Troy ran their typical region-wide competition slate, with all three of its wins occurring in different states. A comprehensive list of groups Express lost to in 2023: Wheaton North and Mt. Zion. The season started with a statement over Wheaton Warrenville South at Mt. Zion and closed with a Mitchell Classic ravaged by weather that saw two Troy choirs in the top three. Following an undefeated 2022 season, Neosho came up short to Totino-Grace and Broken Arrow in their first two competitions of the year but then returned to form, winning three of the same competitions for the second year in a row. They tried their luck at the Wheaton Warrenville South and came up short, but still went up against the best of the Midwest.

Nebraska – Omaha Westside Amazing Technicolor Show Choir (4 – Viterbo, Millard West, Troy Buchanan, Lewis Central)

In the past 11 competition seasons, ATSC has won less than four competitions twice. Twice! That’s quite the testament to the program that Doran Johnson continues to maintain. Westside’s first three wins were in three different states and came over groups as varied as La Crosse Central to Lincoln Southwest to Mt. Zion. After placing third at Omaha South, ATSC faced off against foe Papillion-La Vista South at Lewis Central and bounced back with both vocal and choreography captions en route to its final win of the season. They also made finals and placed third at a monster Heart of America Nashville competition, evening the season score with Mitchell in the process.

New Mexico – Eisenhower Middle Five Star (1 – Luther Burbank)

A mere five miles from the more well-known La Cueva High School, Eisenhower has long had a program that could challenge the best of California’s middle school programs. In their one competition opportunity in 2023, Five Star went to the middle school-only competition Luther Burbank and won the mixed division over Lakeside and Dolores Huerta. While it probably helped that Oak and McAuliffe Middle Schools (feeders to Los Alamitos) only brought single-gender groups and not mixed groups, a win is a win either way!

Check back in a week to see a wrap-up of the nation's biggest winners from 2023!

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