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2024 Wisconsin Poll Rankings: Non-Varsity Groups

Sparta Rise of Adrenaline at De Pere (Ione Berken, @throughdarla)

While they are usually the morning performers and may not make finals much in their own neck of the woods, Wisconsin’s prep and womens choirs are still an integral part of the community and deserve recognition. A panel of four regional experts ranked ten prep groups and five womens groups. What follows is their consensus rankings plus some analysis about how each group’s season went.

Prep Rankings

  1. Onalaska "Express" (4 first-place votes)

2024 was yet another season where Express was at the top of the stack of non-varsity groups in the state of Wisconsin. Following a little bit of a shaky start to the season at Holmen, where the group was third in division and hit with a time penalty, it was back to the usual. While there were no finals appearances in the five competitions, Express didn’t lose to another Wisconsin prep group for the rest of the season. They remain the largest non-varsity group in the state as well, and look to have a strong contingent of middle schoolers coming in for next year to keep it up.

2.       Neenah "Act II"

Act II had one of the oddest seasons in Wisconsin this past year. After the group withdrew from Onalaska, it got thrown into the deep end at Fort Atkinson against multiple out-of-state groups, finishing third. It was then nearly a month until the group’s next and final competition at Green Bay Southwest. In a combined prep and womens division, the group was the bottom choir in division, behind Bay Port and two ranked womens groups, Preble and De Pere. The ‘favorite things’ show was only performed twice on the competition stage, but was very fun nonetheless.

3.       Medford "Momentum"

As a reborn freshman choir in 2023, Medford turned a lot of heads. The discussion naturally went to what the group would achieve as a sophomore outfit. Led by the husband-and-wife duo of Josh and Carmen Ognenoff this season, Momentum came out swinging with a Carmen Sandiego show, one of the most complex prep show designs of the year. Medford notched division wins at New London and North St. Paul, and the only Wisconsin prep groups they lost to all season were DeForest and Bay Port. While its season wrapped up on February 11 this year, Momentum continued to earn its name and create a lot of buzz in the Wisconsin scene.

4.       Washburn "Fire and Ice"

Following up a 2023 season which saw its first finals appearance in a decade was no small task for Fire and Ice. Its three-competition slate was very competitive this season, with the smallest prep division field the group encountered numbering three groups. After fourth-place showings at New London and Eau Claire Memorial in January and February, Washburn took a month to reload before its final competition at Janesville Craig, where F&I notched a runner-up placement. Its contingent of male singer-dancers outnumbered that of several comparable groups around them as well, a welcoming sign for a small school.

5.       Westosha Central "Central Swing, Inc."

CSI was perhaps the choir with the latest start to its season in the entire state. With Burlington, the closest competition to the group, cancelled, Westosha didn’t hit the stage until mid-February. It was the only group in division at Monona Grove and didn’t place in a strong festival division at John Hersey in the beginning of March. However, the group exploded at the end of the season, coming out on top of the prep division at Janesville Craig. It’s the first division win for the group, who moved down to prep during the pandemic, and a step forward towards hopefully moving back up to varsity.

6.       Bay Port "Pandemonious"

Coming into 2024, the Northeast was well aware of this young group, but people outside the region generally had lower recognition of Pandemonious. The awareness level is considerably higher at the end of this year. Bay Port won the prep division at two of the three competitions that they attended, and beat groups above them on this list like Medford and Washburn. The next step? Either going to a fourth/fifth competition outside the Northeast or dip its toe in the varsity division. While nobody knows what the future will hold, the future looks bright.

7.       Colby "The Coalition"

Summer came and went, and while Kyle Aiden choreographed a full show for Coalition, there were many more questions than answers. The group underwent a drastic decline in membership before the school year and a vocal music teacher for Colby Middle and High was never found. Band director Rachel Huss took over the helm of the 14-member ensemble, who made the best of an unenviable situation. While Colby only competed twice in Wisconsin in 2024, finishing fourth at both Altoona and De Pere, they still ran a full competition season from January to March, which is a lot better than folding under the pressure of change.

8.       Brodhead "Guys and Dolls"

A year after opening up Guys and Dolls membership to students from the nearby Juda School, 2024 was another coalition-building season for Brodhead. Following the termination of Parkview Pizazz for financial reasons, Brodhead served as an outlet for Parkview students still interested in show choir. G&D was still one of the smaller prep groups to take the stage this season, but they stayed true to their identity. The group never travelled outside of Southeast Wisconsin this competition season, competing at Milton, Sauk Prairie, Fort Atkinson and Janesville Craig. A second in division at Milton highlighted their results for the season.

9.       Ashwaubenon "Encore"

Encore grew into itself in 2023, sporting a La La Land show that dabbled in showsical territory. 2024 was the year that the growth from 2023 showed. Encore put the entire non-varsity scene on notice with a second-place showing at New London to start the season, taking down Bay Port and Washburn. From there, the group was third in prep at De Pere and competed in the varsity division at Green Bay Southwest. Although they were outscored by multiple prep groups at GBSW, competing in the varsity division is a good sign for the group. They and Bay Port seem to be on similar trajectories as newer Northeastern groups looking to make a name for themselves.

10.   Drummond "Jack Attack"

After rising from deep in the northern forests to debut in 2023, most of the show choir scene knew what to expect from Drummond in 2024. Jack Attack surprised audiences again, greatly expanding their visual presence with more involved choreography and a gigantic iPod classic that was arguably the prop of the year throughout all show choirs in Wisconsin. While logistics limited the group to two competitions this year, a Northwestern comp circuit that is gaining momentum will hopefully allow Jack Attack to grow some more in 2025, its third season competing as the smallest school in Wisconsin with a competitive show choir.

Receiving Votes: Fall Creek “Cricket Choralation”

Womens Rankings

1.       Sparta "Rise of Adrenaline" (3 first-place votes)

Rise of Adrenaline was a totally unknown quantity heading into the year. Heading out of the year, they have a division win at the FAME National Finals under their belt and a number of division wins in the state. Rise of Adrenaline was the first group on stage at the first competition of the season at Holmen and immediately won the division, setting the tone for the season. The group’s rise to the top is even more astounding considering Sparta’s mixed group was in the prep division as little as two years ago. While the group’s membership is majority doublers, they come out of the season with a pile of well-deserve accolades.

2.       Fort Atkinson "Lexington Singers" (1 first-place vote)

In contrast to Rise of Adrenaline, Lexington Singers was generally considered a known quantity heading into 2024. It turned out they were unknown as well. Lexington Singers exploded in size and had a revelation of a season, going from one of the bottom womens groups in the state in terms of size to a decently-sized ensemble with some solid results to its name. Division wins at Milton and Monona Grove highlighted the season for Lexington. While non-Wisconsin competitions were not kind to the group, defending the home turf and breaking into the top of the scene is a fantastic season.

3.       Sauk Prairie "YTBN"

Entering 2024, YTBN seemingly was the top dog in the womens division. A decreasing reliance on doublers, a vastly improved field of competition, and some shuffling in the order of songs may have contributed to a season that didn’t look as impressive on paper. Despite that, this is still a very potent group. YTBN found first in division at New London and beat Waubonsie Valley Resonance, no small feat either. A now-thriving middle school program means that numbers should be on the rise for future years as well, ensuring the longevity of the program.

4.       De Pere "Chicago Street Singers"

De Pere is the last of a dying breed of womens show choirs in Wisconsin: the kind that do about a half a season compared to the mixed group and stays relatively close to home. One would think that a group like this would struggle to garner votes in the ranking, but that is not the case. Chi Street came in second to YTBN at New London in similar fashion to 2023, and then went nearly two months until its second and final competition at Green Bay Southwest. They were the top-finishing womens group in an overall prep division there, beating close rival Preble.

5.       Preble "Rendezvous"

Wisconsin is now to the point where Rendezvous is one of the old guards in the womens show choir scene. Closing in on 15 seasons of show choir, Roovoo had a breakout year in 2023 with multiple division wins. While the group was first in division at Logan, it was also the only group in division. Facing deeper fields at New London, De Pere, and Green Bay Southwest, Rendezvous rattled off a trio of third-place finishes in division. While they didn’t face off against a few womens groups in the state, such as Fort Atkinson, Milton, and Monona Grove, they still put together a solid resume.

Receiving Votes: Milton “Octave Above”

Now that all Wisconsin choirs have finished competing, more poll rankings will be on the way. A Top 25 Varsity Groups ranking will be released in the future to settle the score among the state’s premier groups.


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