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2024 Nebraska Non-Varsity Show Choir Rankings

With plenty of depth in the Nebraska show choir scene, it was only fitting to include 35 groups who didn’t fall into the realm of ‘varsity mixed' for these rankings.

Single-Gender Groups

1.       Westside “Simply Irresistible” (3 first-place votes)

Absolutely no one would be surprised if SI started going by SE – Simply Excellent. In four competitions this year, the group notched three finals appearances, with a high of fourth place overall at Pella, Iowa. Despite a sweep from Titan Radiance at the end of the season, Simply Irresistible remains the foremost face of womens choirs in Nebraska for yet another season.

2.       Papillion-La Vista South “Titan Radiance”

It was a season of ups and downs for Titan Radiance. The group experienced the highest of highs (fifth overall in finals at Lewis Central) and some lows as well (multiple thirds in division). While Millard North Illumination seemed to be Radiance’s kryptonite this season, 2024 was still quite the season. In addition to making finals at Lewis Central, Radiance also came out on top of a seven-choir division at Omaha Westside.

3.       Millard West “Uptown”

A four-state season for Uptown yielded considerable success against tough competition. The group’s two in-state competitions yielded a second to Elkhorn South Shockwave at Lincoln East and a third overall in finals at Omaha South. Uptown also notched a win in division at Mitchell to cap off the season and was right behind the top two groups on the list at Lewis Central. Among Nebraska’s most successful womens groups throughout the years, Uptown added another season of greatness to that record.

4.       Elkhorn South “Shockwave”

Shockwave ran a six-competition slate in 2024, among the fullest of those in the Omaha area. Among the highlights for the choir were two fifth-place finishes in finals, coming at Grand Island in late February and Millard North to cap off the season in March. Shockwave also won the womens division at Lincoln East over Millard West Uptown. Elkhorn South had a caption-filled season, taking home (at various points in the season) Best Opener, Best Costumes, Best Soloist, and Best Strings Player.

5.       Papillion-La Vista “Monarchy”

Nebraska’s lone mens group held court mostly in the prep division in 2024, but the voting panel thinks that they could mix it up with the best of the Cornhusker State’s womens groups. Monarchy notched a pair of finals appearances in 2024, placing fifth at Lincoln Southwest and seventh at Burke. Gage Green also nabbed a pair of Best Soloist awards as Monarchy never fell out of the top three in the prep division across five competitions.

6.       Papillion-La Vista “Heart and Soul”

The season came early for Heart and Soul, who competed on the first four consecutive weekends that there were show choir competitions in Nebraska. They outpaced Monarchy at Burke, placing sixth overall in finals. Additionally, H&S was second in division at Lincoln Southwest and third at Norris and Gretna. Travelling out of state was not kind to the group, as they did not place at Bloomington Kennedy in Minnesota.

7.       Norris “Titanaires”

Despite being from a significantly smaller school than many of the contemporaries on this list, Titanaires held strong this past season. They were second to Urbandale Affinity to kick off the season at Johnston in Iowa. Keeping to Lincoln for the rest of the season, Norris notched third-place finishes at both Lincoln Southwest and Lincoln Northeast.

8.       Millard North “Illumination”

Illumination took a big step up from 2023. The group made finals twice, placing fifth at Elkhorn South and fourth at Waconia in Minnesota. Those placements also came in back-to-back weeks in mid-February. That was paired with an additional three top-two placements in the womens division, including a triumph over Elkhorn South and Papio Heart & Soul to kick off the season at Gretna.

9.       Millard South “Stage One”

Like most every group above it on this list, Stage One also made a finals appearance this year. The group was seventh overall at the Glenwood Gala in late January. That kicked off a run of success, as Stage One captured second in division at its next two competitions, Elkhorn South and Bishop Heelan. Those three placements were bookended by tough competitions at the start and end of the season where the choir did not place.

10.   Lincoln East “Elegance”

It was another year that started with “202”, so Elegance was bound to have some success. Its lone finals appearance on the year came at the Midwest Cup, where it beat Stage One and Allegro to take the sixth finalist spot. Elegance also notched two division wins on the season, coming out on top at Lincoln Links in mid-January and Lincoln Southwest in early February.

11.   Pius X “Prism”

Behind all of the success that Spectrum had this year, Prism was another Pius show choir that had a good year in 2024. Its candy-themed show was very consistent, drawing podium placements at all five competitions the group attended. Following a third at Lincoln East to kick off the season, it was off to the races. Prism finished with four straight seconds, beating groups like Norris and Omaha South.

12.   Omaha South “Amplify”

Amplify competed in five competitions in 2024, and their season was on the later end of Nebraska groups. Three of the group’s five competitions were in the month of March – Omaha North, Millard North, and Mitchell. Highlights of Amplify’s season included a division win at Omaha North, beating Grand Island and Bryan, and a third at Millard North, beating Lewis Central and Ralston.

13.   Kearney “Sapphire and Gold”

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Kearney is the only mid-Nebraska group to appear in this section of the rankings. Sapphire and Gold was undefeated on the season. They debuted at Hastings, beating Grand Island and Aurora and taking sixth overall in finals. Two weeks later at Grand Island Northwest, the group once again beat GISH Sweet Revelation to take home the division win.

14.   Marian “Momentum”

Momentum emerged at the top of the Omaha girls academy category in 2024, performing better than Mercy and Duchesne. Its division win at Omaha South over Pius, Mercy and Bryan was Momentum’s first since Lincoln Northeast in 2020. Additional season highlights included a third at Omaha Westside and a fourth at Papio South.

15.   Lincoln High “Momentum”

While not new in name, Momentum was a new ensemble at Lincoln High this school year. When the mixed group was renamed Chain Reaction, a new womens group picked up the moniker Momentum. It was a short and late competition season for the group, who debuted at Grand Island on February 24 and then closed the season a week later at Lincoln Northeast, finishing fourth and grabbing the Peoples Choice caption.

Receiving Votes: Skutt Catholic “Allegro”, Mercy “Treblemakers”, Ralston “Runway”, Duchesne “Sacre’ Chorus”

Prep Groups         

1.       Elkhorn South “Power Surge” (1 first-place vote)

It was a consistent ride up to the top for Power Surge in 2024. The group started off in fourth at Gretna, then placed third at Lincoln East and Papio South, second at Grand Island, and first at Sioux City East and Millard North. While Power Surge did not make any finals rounds over the course of the season, they were the textbook choir that grew throughout the year and came out on top when it mattered most at the end of the season.

2.       Millard West “Swing Cats” (2 first-place votes)

Whereas Power Surge made its way to the top, Swing Cats started there and stayed there in 2024. The only prep group that Swing Cats lost to in 2024 was Warrior Express, and that was a one-off at Lewis Central. Otherwise, it was clear sailing for the Drew Firkins-directed group. A pair of division wins at Lincoln East and Omaha South were paired with two finals appearances – sixth overall at Mitchell and a pretty outstanding third overall at Bishop Heelan.

3.       Westside “Warrior Express”

Warrior Express scored a pretty clean season in 2024, and there’s not a ton else you can ask a prep group to do besides that. WE came out on top at Millard West in January, Pella in February and Lewis Central in March. The lone blemish on the record was a second at Papio South to Gretna Evolution. While the group never made it into finals, it was still a very successful season for Warrior Express.

4.       Gretna “Evolution”

It was hard to stand out with all of the success that Revolution had in 2024, but Evolution did a good job of it. The chess-themed show checkmated most of its other opponents in the prep division this year. Save for a third at Millard West to Papio South and Westside, the Dakota Mathew-led outfit ran the table, even up at Totino-Grace in Minnesota. A season highlight was making finals and placing sixth at Elkhorn South, while Shiloh Bothwell (does that name sound familiar?) also picked up a Best Soloist award.

5.       Lincoln Southwest “Ambience”

Now in the middle of a three-choir program at Lincoln Southwest, Ambience did well in Cornhusker State prep divisions. It recorded three wins and a runner-up finish, only falling to Swing Cats at Lincoln East. Ambience took a big step at the end of the season, travelling to Illinois to brush with some of the best groups in the country. Competing in the varsity division at Wheaton Warrenville South, Ambience did not come close to finals but did show well among groups of similar skill levels.

6.       Millard North “Intensity”

The ups and downs were plentiful for Intensity this season. A win in the small/prep division at Waconia in Minnesota was the highlight of the season for the group, who also nabbed a pair of second-place finishes. Those results were paired with a third and one competition out of the placements, leaving a little bit to be desired.

7.       Papillion-La Vista South “Titan Express”

Titan Express was always the bridesmaid and never the bride in 2024. Its most frequent placing was second, which the group achieved at both Millard West and Omaha Westside in January. From there, Titan Express ran an absolute gauntlet of tough prep divisions. The most notable of these was placing fourth in a humongous seven-choir prep division at Norris, which was filled with the best in-state and out-of-state prep talent around.

8.       Lincoln East “Elevation”

Elevation underwent a leadership change in advance of the season, as recent UNL director Micah Friesen stepped in as head director. Elevation notched a pair of runner-up finishes early in the season at UNL and Lincoln Links, and Braelyn Jurgensmeier also picked up a soloist caption at Lewis Central to close the season.

9.       Lincoln Southwest “Emergence”

The only second mixed prep group in the state, Emergence remained mostly an exhibition group this season, only mixing it up with the rest of the field at one competition. That competition, however, was Lincoln Northwest. Emergence beat Beatrice and Grand Island Northwest to win the prep division during the day, and also qualified for finals. The outfit placed fourth, in between Glenwood and Seaman. Not bad for a group who was doing it for the first time!

10.   Norris “68th Street Singers”

68th Street north of Firth was probably a little busier this year due to the south Lincoln beltway opening, and the 68th Street Singers were busy as well. Justin Eisenbeis stepped in as head director, taking the place of Hunter Boe, who left for Lincoln Standing Bear. 68th Street Singers’ best performance of 2024 was a runner-up finish at Lincoln Southwest, beating Lincoln East, Lincoln Northeast and Lincoln Northwest.

Receiving Votes: Grand Island Northwest “Bella Voce”, Grand Island “Future Image”

Small Schools

Small schools are defined as Class A or lower by the Nebraska School Activities Association for the 2023-2024 school year (enrollment 600 or lower). Exceptions include Norris and Elkhorn, who were considered varsity groups for the purposes of this poll.

1.       Wahoo “Royalty” (1 first-place vote)

It was far from a sophomore slump for Royalty in 2024 and more like a sophomore breakout season. In its second season of direction under Leighton Ware, Royalty chose its opportunities well and made the most of them to piece together an impressive season. A runner-up finish to Grand Island at Hastings kicked off the season, busting a finals drought that had been going on since February 2020. Royalty also made finals in Missouri (third at Harrisonville), Iowa (third at Atlantic), and in the big-city Nebraska scene (sixth at Lincoln Northeast).

2.       Skutt Catholic “Vivace” (1 first-place vote)

As a small Catholic school in the big city of Omaha, Skutt finds itself with few contemporaries in the immediate vicinity. In turn, Vivace only competed in the metro area once in 2024. After a finals miss at Des Moines Christian the first weekend of the season, Vivace went on a 4-6-5 run at Lincoln Links, Sioux Falls Roosevelt and Elkhorn. A runner-up finish in the 3A division at Pella in Iowa capped off Chris Storm’s 14th season at the helm.

3.       Gretna East “Equinox” (1 first-place vote)

Following a string of high-profile suburban high school openings in the mid-prairie in the past few years (Elkhorn North, Waukee Northwest, Sioux Falls Jefferson), Gretna East was the headliner in 2024 as Lincoln Standing Bear elected to wait until 2025 to debut its competitive ensemble. While Equinox did not claim as many headlines as some of the other schools mentioned, they enjoyed the veteran leadership of Pat Ribar, the longtime head director at Gretna. Equinox cracked finals in its second-ever competition at Grand Island Northwest and was also competitive in its division at Bishop Heelan and Lincoln Northeast.

4.       Lincoln Northwest “First Class”

In its second year of existence, and still in the small-school enrollment category, Lincoln Northwest continued to make strides in its show choir program. The group rebranded from “Aviation” to “First Class” and brought in a new choreographer, Grant Luther. First Class stayed hyper-local in 2024, competing four times within the city limits of Lincoln – UNL, Lincoln East, Lincoln Southwest, and Lincoln Northeast – and hosting its inaugural competition. The group notched a best finish of second in division at UNL.

5.       Plattsmouth “Out of the Blue”

Hailing from the banks of the Missouri River south of Bellevue, Plattsmouth made just the right amount of noise at the right times in 2024. Director Chris Work returned for his tenth season with the group, and Jamie Orton returned for a second year of choreography work. While OOTB debuted late, not competing until Wahoo on February 17, it was quite the ride. The choir stood out of a crowded field there to take the Best Costumes caption, and followed it up with a triumph in small mixed at Norris the next week over Beatrice and Waverly. Plattsmouth closed with a fifth in division at Lincoln Northeast.

6.       Sidney “Sidney State of Mind”

Sidney is western Nebraska’s top representative on this list, earning the de facto ‘Best in Class’ honor of that circuit. Its signature event, as always, was the Scottsbluff Old West Choir Fest in November. Sidney was second at that event, outpacing multiple groups from large Colorado schools and continuing a reputation of excellence at that contest. The choir also performed at a noncompetitive event at Alliance in February alongside other western choirs, adding another event to its resume.

7.       Fullerton “8th and Broadway”

The second debutant on this list, Fullerton could not be more different from Gretna East. The 130-student school sits on the Loup River north of Aurora and Central City in the east-central reaches of Nebraska. 8th and Broadway competed twice and performed noncompetitively at the Central City show choir festival. Its crowning achievement on the season was at Grand Island, when it took second in a four-group small division.

8.       Chase County “9th Street Singers”

The group that beat Fullerton at Grand Island? That would be Chase County. The pride of Imperial has stabilized itself following the retirement of Randy Hayes. Now under the direction of David Rushing, 9th Street no longer mixes it up at Scottsbluff, but they are good for some noise and excitement each year. In 2024, it was at the Islander Invite, where they won the division, and at their home NCDA festival, where they hosted nearly a dozen other groups.

9.       Dundy County Stratton “Homegrown Harmonies”

Tucked in far southwestern Nebraska south of Imperial, DCS is another example of a tiny school whose show choir program has achieved longevity through multiple directors. Homegrown Harmonies started out at Scottsbluff in November and then attended both of the Grand Island competitions at February, getting out a lot for a western group. DCS was third at Grand Island in late February in close pursuit of Chase County and Fullerton.

10.   Seward “Singers”

Jetting back to the eastern population corridor for the final entrant on this list, Seward had one of the more successful seasons on paper for Nebraska’s smaller choirs. Debuting at Hastings in January, Singers notched a solid fifth, outpacing Kearney’s girls in finals. After a jaunt to Missouri in early February, Seward closed at Wahoo, where they were fourth in finals. They fended off Blair and Atchison, among others, to get that placement. 2025 will bring a renaming to Gold Dynamics and a new womens group at Seward, Blue Harmony.

Receiving Votes: Aurora “Rhapsody”, Blair “Ovation”, Deshler “Purple Reign”, Fairbury “Crimson Elite”, Waverly “Encore”, Central City “Vocal Eclipse”, Fort Calhoun “Phenomenon”

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