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The 2019 edition of the WGI East Percussion Power Regional in Toms River, NJ did not let down. Between surprise upsets and shifts in class, here are the key storylines from a jam-packed weekend of east coast percussion:
Stunner in PIW ranks
After Saturday’s prelims, this weekend’s Independent World showdown between United Percussion and George Mason University—a common one at east coast events—looked much like it has the last several years, with UP, the perennial PIW finalist, ahead by about 2 points.
What Saturday’s results didn’t show, though, was a 1.7-point penalty slamming George Mason; the Virginia-based ensemble had actually finished less than a point off of United, signaling the smallest gap between the two at any WGI event to date.
Ultimately, George Mason parlayed that performance into a Sunday stunner, earning its first head-to-head WGI victory over United Percussion, scoring 88.650 to the New Jersey group’s 87.700. George Mason’s lead came almost entirely from visual captions.
Last year, a 12th-place finished marked George Mason’s third time breaking into PIW finals in Dayton—GMU joined the World Class ranks in 2013—and its victory in Toms River seems to be the latest in a long string of steps taken in the right direction over the past few years.
PSO adds four new faces into the already competitive fray
In prelims on Saturday, the top three PSA groups—Hilton, Mechanicsburg, and Downingtown Area School District—all broke 90 points (before penalties). The three of them, as well as Mansfield, which took eighth in PSA prelims, were then bumped into the Open Class level for Sunday’s finals, and most importantly, the remainder of the season.
Keep in mind, this weekend’s Scholastic Open lineup already featured more than its fair share of familiar names, including last year’s WGI silver-medalist (Old Bridge) and a group that hasn’t missed PSO finals since 2005 (Trumbull).
As would typically be expected, those newcomers didn’t quite compete for the top spot in finals, but certainly held their own. Out of nine competitors, the four that transitioned from PSA finished 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th respectively. Hilton (85.100) led the way for the promoted groups, being less than a point off of third-place Trumbull (85.950).
Easily lost in the shifting of classifications, though, was the consistent success of Fair Lawn and Norwalk. Fair Lawn most recently made noise on the WGI national scale with a WGI World Championship title in PSA in 2017; the two finished third and fourth respectively behind Old Bridge and Trumbull at this same event in 2018.
This time around, they won Open Class; while less than half a point separated first-place Fair Lawn (89.625) and second-place Norwalk (89.200), the third-place group was over three points off the pace.
The northeast has tended to be a hotbed for PSO and PSA talent the past several years. Trumbull and Old Bridge have been the figureheads of the trend at the Open Class level, but it’ll be interesting to see how the success of Fair Lawn and Norwalk translates in Dayton next month, and shakes things up for the future.