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Center Grove and Fishers Snap Carmel Win Streaks at Franklin Central

At the Franklin Central Hoosier Show Choir Classic this past weekend, each of the Big Three in Indiana performed in a highly competitive two days of competition. The weekend was headlined by a Carmel-Center Grove showdown, where Center Grove Sound System snapped Carmel’s lengthy unbeaten run. 


The large single-gender division was just as competitive. Fishers Sound, Carmel Accents, and Center Grove Debtones all came with win streaks of three or more, and the group with the shortest win streak emerged victorious. Defending state champion Fishers Sound swept all three captions, proving they are once again the top single-gender group in the state. Sound remains undefeated this season behind new director Laney De Luna, and things look promising for the group's future.


On Friday night, Roncalli Royal Rhapsody cemented that they are the top small mixed group in Indiana, sweeping all captions in another victory over the Pendleton Heights Pendletones. The win marks the end of an undefeated season in the small mixed division for the group, which has displayed excellent visual and vocal prowess throughout the season, even closely challenging several high-ranked Large Mixed groups at Pike MusicFest.


In the small single-gender division, Pendleton Heights Emerald Suites cracked the Center Grove Accents undefeated streak which dated back to 2022. While Accents defeated Emerald Suites earlier in the season, Pendleton’s polish over the last few weeks was evident, as they swept all three captions in the victory.


Center Grove


Center Grove Sound System hits their final pose at Franklin Central (Nathan Ensley)


Entering the competition, Center Grove Sound System was determined to take down their rival from the north who had beaten them the past two years at this very competition. Senior Cooper Peters, who plays King George III in this year’s show, describes the group’s mindset coming into their only faceoff against Carmel this season.


“[We were] whole-heartedly determined to leave it all out there on stage,” Peters said. “This was our last chance to compete with our biggest rival choir and if we gave anything less than our absolute best, the competition would have swept us. The over-exuding intensity of Sound System was palpable as we walked onstage before our finals performance.”


Exiting prelims, Sound System was trailing Carmel, but their determination to defeat their cross-town rival unlocked a new level of performance and stage presence that is up with some of the best-ever Center Grove performances.


“Compared to past seasons at this time, I can say that Sound System performed to 100% of their ability,” Peters said. “We left every ounce of energy out there onstage. I don’t want to call it too soon, but I think this year of SS is the best I’ve ever gotten to perform with.”


Every member of the group was flowing across the stage with an insane level of energy. No matter where you were in the auditorium, Center Grove’s overpowering sound carried and filled the space. Their vocal power quickly gave way to an additional level of dynamic contrast, more evident than in previous seasons, which led to Center Grove capturing the vocals caption for the third straight year. However, their improved visuals, particularly in their cleanliness and style, is what led CG to take their first victory over Carmel since Heart of America Orlando in 2022.


Despite their incredible performance, Center Grove performers were unsure whether they had done enough to be victorious. They thought their fears were confirmed when Carmel was announced as the winner of Best Show Design and Best Choreography caption awards. Sophomore member Ethan Wood describes what it was like as the group eagerly awaited the final results.


“The moment that Sound System got grand champion was just so overwhelming,” Wood said. “It had been announced that Carmel had received both best visuals and best show design, and Sound System had received best vocals. This was a very similar situation to last year, and Carmel had beaten us then. We all thought that based on how it went last year we would have yet another loss to Carmel. The shock we all felt when Carmel received first runner-up was unexplainably crazy. As soon as Sound System got grand champion, we were all crying and hugging each other and it was just so surreal. We were all so proud of each other and of the fact that all the work we had put into beating Carmel actually paid off. It literally felt like we had just won nationals.”


Senior Eli Emmons is hoisted in the air during Center Grove's victory celebration.


Following the victory, everyone embraced in what was a chaotic yet heartfelt celebration. It was pure exhilaration briefly that was only briefly interrupted by some posed pictures. Center Grove even shared the love with the other winning group, Fishers Sound.


“[My favorite moment was] the flood of joy that overcame Sound System when we won, Peters said. “I’ve never seen so many hugs and tears of joy. The senior class has been fighting for years for this result, and every single member bought into it. That was the most joyous moment of my life thus far.”


Center Grove’s large single-gender group also brought a new level of energy to their finals performance. Debtones filled the auditorium with their excellent vocal tone as well as their crisp choreography. The Debs are renowned for their exceptional soloists that take over an auditorium with their vocal sound. The group placed first runner-up ahead of the Carmel Accents but fell just short of an unreal Fishers Sound group. 


Entering the competition, the Center Grove Accents, CG’s junior varsity girls group, were on a four-competition winning streak dating back to 2022. Still, that didn’t stop the usual nerves from creeping up on this young group. Freshman Kiera Kobiela explained how she felt about their Accents’ final competitive performance.


“I think by far this is Center Grove Accents' best performance we’ve done this year,” Kobiela said. “We all were so anxious and nervous backstage but we all were there for each other. We hugged, laughed, and did handshakes with our friends to make them feel confident in our last show."


While the Accents’ streak ultimately came to an end at the hands of Emerald Suites, Kobiela could not be more proud of the progress her group had made from the first performance at Fishers.


“We were bummed that we got first runner-up, but it was an amazing show we put on and we couldn’t be more proud of our progress,” Kobiela said.


Pendleton Heights


Pendleton Heights "Emerald Suites" hits their final pose at Franklin Central (Nathan Ensley)


Entering this weekend, despite having grand championships under their belt, members of Pendleton Heights’ univoice group, Emerald Suites, were extremely nervous because they were set to face the Center Grove’s prep group, the Accents, who had defeated them in their past two meetings, including at Fishers earlier this season. 


“I felt extremely nervous and excited at the same time,” Senior Bella Myers said. “Emerald Suites was going up against their biggest rivals, Center Grove. I knew that if we tried hard enough we would pull through, and that’s exactly what we did!”


Following their performance, those nerves turned into satisfaction knowing that they had just delivered a legendary performance that would go into the history books of Pendleton show choir. Emerald Suites president Lyn Wilkins described just how incredible this performance was for the group.


“It was our best show yet,” Wilkins said. “It showed just how much we were capable of. We might even be able to top our show from two years back, the 'Social Media' show, which was legendary for Pendleton. I remember being so proud after performing that show, and I got that same feeling of pride at FC this weekend.”


Franklin Central


Franklin Central "FC Singers" performers their closer in a Saturday exhibition (Nathan Ensley)


Though not competing this week, Franklin Central delivered incredible exhibitions that hooked the audience and brought them into each of their unique stories. 


Unlike other competitions, Franklin Central’s varsity mixed group, F.C. Singers, actually performed their show in exhibition twice, one for each night of the competition. Senior member of Singers, Branden Evans, explained just how special those two exhibitions were for him.


“The absolute best moment of the entire weekend was being able to perform without worry of placement or trophy. Both performances Friday and Saturday were some of the best performances I have had the pleasure of being apart of. To have 1000+ people there just to watch you perform is something that I cherish every time that it happens. Every HSCC performance I have been a part of has been so special and an honor to put on for so many people.”


F.C. Singers debuted a special twist to their shows at this competition that even some of the group did not know about. In the nightmare section, soloist Ryan Barnes switched up the final “off to Neverland” into a screamo line that sent the crowd into a chaotic frenzy and sent FC into a powerful dance break. Barnes had suggested the change before Pike MusicFest, but FC’s director had said no. When Barnes debuted the new approach on Friday and Saturday at their exhibitions, their director could not be more pleased, smiling and laughing through the whole thing.


Carmel


Carmel "Ambassadors" performs their opener in Finals (Nathan Ensley)


The Carmel Ambassadors came into this competition with an insane seven-competition win streak that included several victories over the other two members of the Indiana Big Three, FC Singers and Center Grove Sound System; however, Saturday was the night that streak would end. Their finals performance was everything a Carmel performance needs to be: precise choreography, diction, and poise that usually sets Carmel apart from the competition. Their show is incredibly fun, their ballad is beautiful, and their use of tambourines fits perfectly with the show’s riverside theme. Ultimately, though, it would not be Carmel’s day. The Ambassadors placed first runner-up and left with best choreography and show design captions as well as an intense desire to become even better for next season.


The Carmel Accents came into this competition with a six-competition win streak, but it was going to be a significant challenge for them to continue that run. Their show “Work of Art” featured beautiful costuming, blocking, and set design as well as a heartfelt message that everyone is a work of art. The group included several famous contemporary paintings, such as the “Mona Lisa” and “Starry Nights” as background elements. Their choreography was some of the cleanest of any group there, which can be quite the challenge when the Accents are using winged sleeves in their opening costume and throwing parachutes in the air later in the show. 


Fishers


Fishers Sound performs their opener at Franklin Central (Nathan Ensley)


Fishers proved they belong with the top schools in Indiana this week in an all-out barrage on the field from Sound and a well-placed fight from Electrum. Electrum made their time-traveling show even more fun in finals this week as the boy band made their way across the pit and interacted with the crowd, to the entire auditorium’s delight. These little moments and quick transitions from different eras are what make Electrum a must-watch this year.


While in past weeks, Fishers women’s group Sound looked strong, there were still some question marks regarding whether they could win against the best of Indy this season. Their main opponents in Center Grove and Carmel had both picked up winning streaks to rival Fisher's own. They all came in with something to defend, and while three came in, only Fishers would leave Franklin Central with their streak alive and well. Their powerful vocals, swagger, and intense choreography took Franklin Central by storm, and the group left with vocal, visual, and show design captions.


Electrum made a statement that they should be favorites going into Avon this coming weekend. They faced off against rival Brownsburg, who had a meteoric rise up our rankings last week. Fishers held fast and had two great runs of their show to hold them off, but it looked close. Both groups deserve a top spot on the podium in Indy this year. While it will be a large task to take on with their competition, Fishers looks poised this week to turn back the clock to Avon 2022 and take their first grand championship of the season.


Brownsburg


Brownsburg "Starlight Voices" performs their closer at Franklin Central. (Nathan Ensley)


In a competition where many were focused on the Big Three, Brownsburg impressed and proved they belonged on the same stage as those nationally renowned programs. While both groups placed fourth in their respective divisions, these Brownsburg groups are as close as ever to the top Indiana has to offer, with creative set designs, flashy costumes, and impressive stunts.


This year, the Brownsburg Starlight Voices presents a set based on the show, “I Love Lucy,” that is clever, flashy, and funny. The group’s playful use of “Fame” by Lady Gaga perfectly encapsulates the naïve yet zealous yearning for fame of the show’s main character, Lucy. The show hits a creative climax when Lucy finally gets to be the star of the show. Their closer is just bursting with energy, no more special when the group does the conga across the stage to “Fireball” by Pitbull. 


Spotlight Singers & Company closely challenged Electrum for third place, taking the audience on a wild ride on the crazy train. The intensity and ferocity on the stage matched that of the top groups. Their show is non-stop action with their group performing crazy stunts, including a near full group worm besides a brief break for a powerful ballad. And what more can you want from a Brownsburg show than some sparklers at the final pose? This group is making a name for themselves and could very well knock off a Power Five group soon.


Roncalli


Roncalli "Royal Rhapsody" performs their closer at Franklin Central (Nathan Ensley)


Roncalli proved once and for all that they are the top small mixed group in the state this season, sweeping every caption to cap off an undefeated season in the small mixed division. This group has powerful diction, incredible stage presence, and some of the best transitions around. The group stays engaged with each other throughout the performance, bringing the audience into the dark world that they established. Their ballad “Angel by the Wings” tugged at the heartstrings and produced chills as the group of just forty performers belted dramatic chords into every corner of the auditorium. Following the ballad, their show takes an upbeat switch with a performance that sticks with you well after they leave the stage.


This year’s Franklin Central Hoosier Show Choir Classic may go down as one of the best show choir competitions ever. The talent was unreal, the lighting was vibrant, and the atmosphere was intense. And yet, there is still more show choir to happen this season. As Indianapolis groups make their way into the home stretch of their seasons and dive into nationals, the Hoosier Classic will still hold a special place as the midseason contest that captured it all.

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2 Comments


I'm excited to see Huntington North go against Roncalli at Indiana State Small School Finals

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Unfortunately, Roncalli will not be attending ISSMA state finals this year as they have a scheduled spring break that weekend. I was just as excited as you to see that matchup.

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