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A handful of high-profile east coast ensembles will make their mark on the WGI 2019 power regional season at this weekend’s East Power Regional in Toms River, NJ, with 38 entries—more than half of which will compete in Scholastic A—set to compete in a Saturday-Sunday event.
Here’s what to watch for this weekend from Pine Belt Arena:
First 2019 meeting for East Coast PIW duo
United Percussion (4:38 PM ET) and George Mason University (4:49 PM ET) have been familiar foes the last few seasons, often competing as the lone PIW representatives at several WGI and non-WGI events in the northeast.
United certainly has the deeper history of competitive success, but George Mason’s recent surge has set up this matchup as one to follow during the 2019 season.
Last year, UP and GMU met at this same event, with the former winning by just under three points. The two were separated by a similar margin at WGI World Championships, but Mason’s 12th place finish was its highest since entering World Class in 2013 — just its second time reaching PIW finals — and its final score of 90.363 was its first time breaking the 90-point threshold.
As far as 2019’s concerned, these two groups have yet to face off; so, this weekend will mark United’s WGI season debut, while George Mason logged a score of 79.850 in its lone WGI performance in at the Richmond regional on February 23.
Old Bridge headlines stacked PSO list
The WGI East Power Regional features seven Scholastic Open ensembles, several of which are recognizable names at the PSO-level based on their previous success in Dayton.
As has been the case the past several years on the east coast, Old Bridge (3:19 PM ET) is one figurehead of this weekend’s PSO competition. The New Jersey ensemble has reached Open Class finals in six of the past eight years, with four of those ending in Top 5 finishes. Most recently, Old Bridge took 2nd in 2018’s finals with a score of 95.475.
For context, last year at the East Power Regional, Old Bridge topped the PSO field by three points and will face most of the same groups this time around.
Fair Lawn (3:29 PM ET) and Trumbull (CT) have seen their fair share of national success in recent seasons. Trumbull hasn’t missed a PSO finals since 2005; the group most recently earned ninth place in 2018 and has finished in the Top 10 in 10 of the past 13 years.
Fair Lawn has yet to make its mark in Open Class, the ensemble is just two years removed from Scholastic A gold, a title it owned in 2017 with a score of 95.925. While Norwalk (2:49 PM ET) hasn’t made as much noise on the national scale—outside of a semifinalist finish in 2018—the group finished third at this same event a year ago, ahead of Fair Lawn by more than three points.
20 PSA groups to kick off East Power Regional
While a handful of the groups competing in Scholastic A at this year’s Toms River event won’t be competing in Dayton next month, if last year’s East Power Regional is any indicator, there will be plenty of competitive intrigue with this deep group of ensembles.
First off, though, the full list that’ll be headed to World Championships isn’t a short one: West Milford (NJ), Downingtown Area School District (PA), Mansfield (MA), Liverpool (NY), Hilton (NY), Hempfield (PA), Unionville (PA), Westhill (CT), Newtown (CT), Hatboro-Horsham (PA), Mechanicsburg (PA).
Of those 11 ensembles, all but two have qualified for PSA World Championship finals in the past seven years. Most recently, Unionville (4th), Mechanicsburg (10th) and Southern Regional (11th) all qualified in 2018. Unionville also made it in 2017, while Hatboro-Horsham and Downingtown both reached finals in 2016.
At the 2018 edition of the East Power Regional, these groups’ prowess was on display; while Southern Regional took the top spot, Westhill, Unionville, and Hatboro-Horsham were all within five points.
This year’s PSA field looks even deeper than last year’s, though. Of the nine groups that have, as previously mentioned, qualified for one of the last seven WGI PSA finals, only six attended last season’s event, and one of those six—Downingtown—competed at the Open Class level.