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2024 Wisconsin Varsity Rankings

Hamilton Synergy at De Pere. Photo: Ione Berken / @throughdarla

The dust has settled, and it was another great season of Wisconsin show choir. From breakout groups and first-time winners to groups making midseason moves up from prep and everything in between, so much happened in 2024. What follows is the results of four regional experts ranking 25 varsity choirs from this season.

1.       Onalaska “Hilltoppers” (3 first-place votes)

At first glance, a one-win season for Onalaska feels rather disappointing. It’s the first time since 2013 that the Hilltoppers claimed less than two wins. It was a year ripe with challenges as well, with bumps in the road regarding songs in the set, members of the creative team, and tragic and unexpected losses. However, their competition schedule was deceptively tough. Onalaska routinely competed against stalwart out-of-state groups and matched up well, continuing its reputation as one of the best show choirs in the country from a school with under 1,000 students. Through the trials and adversity, the Hilltoppers triumphed through it all and remained the class of the state.

2.       Tomah "Limited Edition" (1 first-place vote)

If 2023 was the year that Tomah broke through to take its first win, 2024 was the year that Tomah shattered the entire show choir scene in the state. With a little bit of a messy showing at Holmen aside, Limited Edition ran a long and arduous competition season with one of the tightest shows in the state this year. Its Popeye-themed show was one of the most entertaining as well, and it won four competitions. Kami Murray also went on a ridiculous run of soloist awards, capping a long run of caption awards for her across multiple years. The year ended the best way it could – with Limited winning a national championship in Branson.

3.       De Pere "Jam Session"

Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a trend. De Pere has now firmly established a trend as one of the top groups in the state after the pandemic. The group is on the smaller end of the elite groups, and has signature calling cards in extravagant band features and high-energy choreography. Its ‘On the Run’ set this year was infused with some Ellie Jordan choreography, a full-circle moment as she returned nearly a decade after choreographing for De Pere at the beginning of the Anne Marie Cummings era. Two late-season wins, including a sweep over Tomah at Sparta, and a sweep of five Best Band awards highlighted the season for Jam Session.

4.       La Crosse Central "Grand Central Station"

It was another quality season for GCS, who came out with a prop-laden State Fair show and competed in three different states. While Central narrowly missed out on a grand championship at Onalaska, GCS showed solidly as an upper-tier group and made finals everywhere it went, mixing it up with some of the best programs from eastern Iowa and Minnesota. Members of the choir won Best Soloist awards at three of five competitions attended, as well. Behind the scenes, however, planning was ongoing to merge Central and Logan’s show choir efforts, meaning that this year will always be looked at with nostalgia glasses as ‘the last Grand Central Station show.’ It was a fitting way to go out befitting a program with so much heritage.

5.       Sparta "Upstage Adrenaline"

In any other year, Sparta’s continued rise would be the story of the Wisconsin show choir scene. While they were overshadowed in headlines by nearby Tomah’s show, Upstage Adrenaline is still light years ahead of where a second-year varsity show choir should be. While there were a couple more bumps in the road than 2023, a number of steps forward still occurred. Upstage Adrenaline broke through for its first-ever victory, triumphing at Janesville Craig. They hosted a competition, Burst of Adrenaline. They attended the FAME finals in Branson and took choreography off Tomah. Given another offseason of maturity, Sparta should be right up in the mix again in 2025.

6.       Sauk Prairie "Executive Session"

It was a season of growth for Sauk Prairie, although the results sheet may not show it. The show that placed fourth at Holmen at the beginning of January was much different than the show that placed fifth at John Hersey at the beginning of March. Sporting an All Shook Up show, recalling shades of Mayville’s 2017 set, Executive Session showcased ‘50s-era vocals and a unique style of choreography that they are known for. Another thing Exec is known for? Best soloist awards. Sam Roberts took home that mantle this year, cleaning up at New London, North St. Paul and Monona Grove.

7.       Logan "The Class Act"

TCA found itself in a little bit of flux entering the 2024 season, as Adam Carty switched choreographers between his first and second years as director and the choir dipped to under 30 singer-dancers. However, most fears went away at Holmen, when Logan put on a performance that put them in finals by raw points but just outside in ordinal ranks. From there, it was off to Wonderland for what wound up being the final season of The Class Act. They ripped off five finals berths, including a trio of third-place finishes. It was a fitting way to go out before combining with Central.

8.       Holmen "Midwest Express"

It was a season of even numbers for Holmen. Midwest Express went to six competitions, and when they made finals, finished either second, fourth or sixth. They made finals in a stacked field at Sauk Prairie in January, a big accomplishment. To cap that off, Holmen was second and took the choreography caption off Sparta at Janesville Craig. Its duck pond-themed show was somewhere in the grey for most of the year, sitting somewhere between story and traditional, and was a novel take on a classic show choir message. Along with the choir right above it and the choir right below it in the rankings, Holmen was another group that took a step forward in 2024 in its second year under a new leadership team.

9.       Hamilton "Synergy"

Let’s take it from the top: Synergy’s season was headlined by its first-ever grand championship. Two weeks after a disappointing finals miss at De Pere, Hamilton roared back to take the win and Best Choreography over Waubonsie Valley and Sauk Prairie. There was much more to the season, however. Synergy also notched a pair of fourth-place finishes, including one in their first-ever trip to Sauk Prairie, and both Gavin Damato and Sydney Alexander won Best Soloist captions. Now concluding her second year at the helm of the program, Maggie Condon has more than given the group continuity following a couple of leadership changes: she has brought the group to the elite of the Wisconsin show choir scene.

10.   Reedsburg "Choraliers"

2024 was one of those seasons where you could never really get a good handle on where Reedsburg’s show fell. Choraliers started out on top of the proverbial show choir tree at Holmen, qualifying into finals over several other contending groups like Logan. However, only two finals appearances followed throughout the course of the season. The treehouse-themed show barely missed at New London, Sauk Prairie and Fort Atkinson, three deep contests. Ariana Noga bookended the season with soloist awards at Holmen and Sparta, and Reedsburg picked up third and Best Show Design at the latter contest. It marked their best finish since before the pandemic.

11.   Preble "Center Stage"

Preble came out of the gate and had a Preble year – lots of singer/dancers on stage, cute costumes, a show that made sense the first time seeing it, and placing just well enough to be considered dangerous most places. A Best Vocals caption at New London put the Northeast (and to an extent, the whole state) on notice. Center Stage followed that up solidly, placing fifth at both De Pere and Logan before wrapping up the season with a sixth-place finish at Green Bay Southwest. Kaitlyn Watson also won a soloist award at De Pere, notching a nice individual award.

12.   Neenah "Vintage"

There were a lot of questions surrounding Neenah before the season after a little bit of an up-and-down year in 2023. Those questions persisted after a time penalty at Holmen knocked them significantly down the order and weather nixed an appearance at Onalaska. Finally hitting the stage at Fort Atkinson, Vintage turned out in vintage form, placing third, fourth and second from there on out. Of special note was the second at Green Bay Southwest, where they outpaced groups ahead of them on the list such as Logan and Preble, and were right behind De Pere.

13.   Fort Atkinson "South High Street Singers"

2024 was yet another year that added to the long legacy of South High. While the group was on the smaller side this year, Fort Atkinson’s trademark light bars and props (including a life-sized gingerbread man) more than made up for it. Fort notched a pair of third-place finishes during the season, including one to cap off the season at Janesville Craig. In a southern Wisconsin scene that has plenty of talented groups, South High did plenty this year to stand out. Due to a breakout year from the womens group Lexington Singers, the future of SHHS looks bright as well.

14.   Monona Grove "Silver Connection"

Silver Connection is the prototypical example of a show that grew throughout the year. The group was out of finals by a pretty wide margin to start the year at Holmen, was fifth in a lighter field at Milton and was eighth at Fort Atkinson, again missing the evening round. However, the golden-themed show made its mark at Western Dubuque. Facing a field of nine 4A choirs, Silver Connection qualified into finals and finished sixth, notching a good result to close out the year.

15.   Eau Claire Memorial "Old Abe Show Choir"

The Old Abes were one of the quietest choirs of the year for how much success they had. Only once was the group at the premier competition of the weekend, flying under the radar for many of their appearances. OASC made finals everywhere they went this year, a huge step forward. They are also the top group from the Northwest region of the state on this list. Memorial’s Blues Clues-themed show was also a nice addition to the cadre of novelty sets that took the stage in Wisconsin this year. 2024 was the first year OASC made four finals appearances since 2016.

16.   Milton "Choralation"

Choralation didn’t have a ton to lose heading into 2024. A 2023 season which saw only one finals appearance was followed by a late director change, as Bryce Hesterman bailed out of the teaching industry in the later stages of the summer. Abbi Landrum didn’t just keep the group going in 2024, she markedly improved it. A sixth at Fort Atkinson set the tone for much of the rest of the year, which also saw a fourth at Sparta and a fifth at Craig. While there is still room to grow, Milton is well on its way to being a contending program again.

17.   Mayville "Cardinal Singers"

It was a departure from the norm in 2024, as Mayville departed from its ‘showsical’ pattern of shows and instead did a rags-to-riches show. Following a showing at the bottom of the stack at Holmen, Cardinal Singers righted ship at New London, qualifying finals and making a change in the order of its songs. However, for the second straight year, Mayville wound up in sixth place more than anywhere else. New London, El Paso-Gridley and Janesville Craig all wound up in that category for Cardinal Singers. That, combined with a standout fourth at Fort Atkinson and three finals misses, made up the season for Mayville.

18.   New London "Vision"

Growing pains abounded for Vision in year number four under Kevin Spindler. Coming off arguably the group’s best year ever, finals appearances were only had at two local competitions. Weather curtailed a season-opening competition at Onalaska, Vision was caught out in the Sauk Prairie jumble, and fractions of a point separated them from finals at Fort Atkinson. Despite that, New London should still be considered a program on the rise, as the group is now testing itself against considerably tougher competition on a regular basis and is growing stronger because of that.

19.   Plymouth "Momentum"

Momentum remains a unique force in the Wisconsin show choir scene. Director and choreographer Carter Krzyzaniak’s elaborate show designs continue to sit fully in the story show realm, a rarity for a group that is still young in the varsity division. Momentum took its first foray out of state this year, competing at Mt. Zion’s Midwest Invitational in January. That was a highlight of the season for Plymouth, taking home second place in festival mixed and taking Best Choreography off Troy Buchanan’s prep group. Back in the Badger State, Pria Joseph nabbed a Best Soloist award at Logan. It was the third straight year that she won a Best Soloist caption.

20.   Eau Claire North "Northernaires"

Similar to the crosstown Memorial show choir, Eau Claire North was one of the quieter show choirs in the state this season. Its Breakfast Club-themed show started the season in western Wisconsin before branching out-of-state. Northernaires qualified for finals at Cedar Rapids Jefferson in March, a significant accomplishment for a couple of reasons. Number one, they beat Janesville Craig to do it. Number two, it was North’s first finals appearance since 2020. The group also picked up Best Crew awards at both Onalaska and Waconia, a nice pickup in the competition to be the best behind the risers.

21.   Chippewa Falls "Chi-Hi Harmonics"

Chi-Hi ran one of the most compact schedules in the state this season, competing on four straight weekends in between January 20 and February 10. In Rachel McIlquham’s fourth year with the choir, Harmonics were a step behind Eau Claire Memorial in the Northwest but dueled it out with pretty much everybody else in the region. A highlight of the season was Winterfest on February 3, where Chippewa Falls made its only finals appearance of the year. To do so, it beat Eau Claire North, West Salem and South St. Paul.

22.   DeForest "DeFortes"

You know, DeForest isn’t even supposed to be on this list. The group was on shaky footing for a little bit after the pandemic, but 2024 was truly a breakout year for DeFortes. Their football-themed show garnered prep division wins at Holmen and Milton to start the season, beating groups like Medford and Onalaska Express. DeForest returned after a break for the school musical in the varsity division. Competing at Monona Grove, Western Dubuque, and Janesville Craig, DeFortes did not make any finals rounds, but they did make a lasting impression that they are one of the state’s rising stars. They join Green Bay Southwest and Sparta as some of the most recent groups to move up from the prep division.

23.   Green Bay East "Rhapsody in Red"

Following the departure of Kevin Flogel, who resurrected Rhapsody from nearly death, in the mid-2010s, there was probably going to be an identity crisis of some kind for Green Bay East. The high-energy, prop-laden shows that were trademarks of the Flogel era would most likely disappear. Julian Sieber stepped in as director of Rhapsody in Red for 2024. The group took a step back in terms of competition schedule, competing at the three competitions that are within an hour of school: New London, De Pere and Green Bay Southwest. While the group did not win any placements or captions, they did bring on Wilson Wang to choreograph, which will be something to watch for in the future.

24.   West Salem "Singsations"

West Salem was in the headlines a little bit before the season, as the womens show choir Vivace folded and Singsations was left as the only competitive show choir from the growing exurban school. However, the noise died down as Singsations got gobbled up in competitive fields early in the competition season, especially at Holmen. West Salem’s BeReal-themed set was a nice tie-in to pop culture without being overly gimmicky or cringe, only taking one defined moment in the show to take a BeReal. The end of the season was arguably the best for West Salem, as the group beat out DeForest, Waubonsie Valley’s prep group and others for a finals spot at Monona Grove.

25.   Janesville Craig "Spotlighters"

Following the departure of Cortney Hammer, Craig went through yet another leadership change. It seems like change has been a constant for Spotlighters in the past half-dozen or so years. Zachary Loving came from the successful show choir program at Joplin, Missouri to take over one of Wisconsin’s historically best programs. He imported Zachary Pettit from the same area to take over some choreography duties, as well as Mark Traynor Quamme. It was a season of adjusting for Craig, as its mythology-themed show failed to take home any finals placements. However, where the group goes from here remains to be seen.

Receiving Votes: Green Bay Southwest "Spotlight Singers", Altoona "Locomotion", Burlington "B*JAZZled"

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