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The best A Class guards in the world gathered in Dayton, OH, this week, for the 2019 WGI Guard World Championships to see who would claim the honor of being an A Class Finalist. On Friday, April 5th, they got their answer.
Let's see who made the grade:
In SA, twenty guards made it to A Class Finals, and while getting into Finals, competition was super steep. Coming out of Semi-Finals, scores were wicked close: 20th-17th all scored between 90.680 and 90.940 - less than 0.3 difference; 16th-9th all scored between 91.120 and 91.950 which, while not as close, is still a pretty tight grouping of scores.
Let's take a look at what changed between Semi-Finals to Finals:
|20||Billerica Memorial HS||90.680||20 -> 16||20||Lafayette HS||84.310|
|19||O'Fallon Township HS||90.785||=||19||O'FallonTownship HS||85.020|
|18||Lafayette HS||90.905||18 -> 20||18||Harrison HS||85.350|
|17||Southlake Carroll HS||90.940||17 -> 15||17||Grassfield HS||85.455|
|16||Harrison HS||91.120||16 -> 18||16||Billerica Memorial HS||86.100|
|15||East Lincoln HS||91.285||15 -> 14||15||Southlake Carroll HS||87.140|
|14||Grassfield HS||91.345||14 -> 17||14||East Lincoln HS||87.685|
|13||Damonte Ranch HS||91.495||=||13||Damonte Ranch HS||88.535|
|12||Somerset Academy||91.550||12 -> 10||12||Sebastian River HS||88.995|
|11||Sebastian River HS||91.735||11 -> 12||11||Alpharetta HS||89.125|
|10||Alpharetta HS||91.895||10 -> 11||10||Somerset Academy||90.880|
|9||Lockport Township HS||91.950||9 -> 8||9||Pflugerville HS||91.795|
|8||Blue Springs HS Varsity||92.335||8 -> 6||8||Lockport Township HS||92.135|
|7||Central Square HS||92.900||=||7||Central Square HS||92.715|
|6||Pflugerville HS||92.905||6 -> 9||6||Blue Springs HS||93.070|
|5||Northwest Cabarrus HS||92.950||5 -> 3||5||Rancho Cucamonga HS||95.270|
|4||Freedom HS (Tampa)||92.970||=||4||Freedom HS||95.565|
|3||Rancho Cucamonga HS||93.345||3 -> 5||3||Northwest Cabarrus HS||95.645|
|2||Sunlake HS||93.485||=||2||Sunlake HS||97.590|
|1||Fleming Island HS||94.270||=||1||Fleming Island HS||97.720|
As you can see, there were a LOT of placement shifts from Semi-Finals to Finals, and the scores, themselves, opened up a lot between contests. This can be kind of confusing - "How did my guard go from scoring a 90 in Semis, to an 84 in Finals?!"
Well, a lot of that has to do with how Rounds are structured. Scoring in rounds can lead to higher scores based upon how one group performed compared to the other guards in their round. Once you advance to Finals, you're competing against the best of those rounds, and you're essentially getting a clean read, meaning that judges view your guard based not on the score you got the night before, but on where you're placed coming into Finals competition. When this happens, scores can fluctuate pretty wildly, as was the case, last night.
One of the biggest jumps of the night was Billerica Memorial HS (Billerica, MA), with their program, "The Crown," moving from 20th Place up to 16th. Their program made excellent use of floor design to help drive staging. Their floor had four cobblestone paths stretching out from the center dais where the throne sat, effectively quadrisecting the floor into four different "stages" in which performers could spin. It allowed the guard to spin in smaller groups, creating excellent opportunities for the layering of equipment work and directing focus to certain parts of the floor. They also had a phenomenal run.
With a score of 95.645, Northwest Cabarrus HS (Concord, NC) jumped from 5th to 3rd, coming out with a really strong program - "And So it Goes" - that had a fantastic floor design that made excellent use of negative space, while creating a small stage on Side One for the performers to come together in a small space. They displayed excellent control of their equipment, as well as strength in movement both with, and without their equipment.
In 2nd Place, with a score of 97.590, Sunlake HS stunned the audience with their program, "Shhh...Keep it Down," using an operatic cover of Til' Tuesday's 1980s classic, "Voices Carry." There were so many great things going on in this program, from their gorgeous floor and flag designs, to their fantastic equipment writing and execution. Though not my favorite cover of this song, it's hard to argue with the interpretation. They moved well, spun well, and the staging was very well done.
In 1st Place, with a score of 97.720, Fleming Island HS (Fleming Island, FL) danced their way to the gold with their program, "They Will Come and They Will Go." This show displayed Fleming Island's phenomenal movement training. There was a phenomenal flag/rifle partner feature about a minute into the show that really demonstrates the quality training these performers have received. In the middle of the program, the performers enter into a moving dance block, which they do very well. It served as a nice break from the equipment work. Their ensemble flag statement at the end was very well layered and excellently executed.
WGI fans voted Central Square HS (Central Square, NY) and their program, "1, 2, and 3, 4, 5," as the 2019 Scholastic A Class Fans' Favorite
In IA, fifteen guards made it to Finals competition on Friday night. There weren't as many placement switches in IA as there were in SA, and the ones that were weren't as dramatic as the ones in SA. That said, there was some phenomenal guard on display, this evening. Let's take a look:
|15||National Avenue||88.770||15 -> 13||15||Verve||85.385|
|14||Verve||88.920||14 -> 15||13||National Avenue||85.675|
|13||Gates Chili Independent Winter Guard||89.260||=||13||Gates Chili Independent Winter Guard||85.675|
|11||Anesidora||89.670||11 -> 10||11||Malachi Independent A||88.565|
|10||Malachi Independent A||90.370||10 -> 11||10||Anesidora||89.210|
|9||Metanoia Winter Guard||90.620||=||9||Metanoia Winter Guard||89.905|
|8||Jacksonville University Winterguard||90.730||=||8||Jacksonville University|
|7||Divenire Winter Guard||90.790||7 -> 6||7||3rd Legend||90.960|
|6||Onyx||90.910||6 -> 5||6||Divenire||91.000|
|5||3rd Legend||91.350||5 -> 7||5||Onyx||92.080|
|4||AMP||92.000||4 -> 3||4||University of South Florida A||93.555|
|3||University of South Florida A||92.300||3 -> 4||3||AMP||94.485|
|2||St. Anns||93.430||=||2||St. Ann's||95.080|
|1||Icon Winter Guard||95.340||=||1||Icon Winter Guard||98.055|
With a score of 94.485, AMP (Camden, NJ) came in 3rd Place with their program, "Pocket Full of Dreams," a very nice cover of Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind." I was really in love with their floor design, which had a great brick street design, along with several working lamp posts.
AMP's show had a lot of really fantastic equipment writing that was incredibly musical and highly responsive to the lyrics. Moreover, the show was very well performed - the performers showed great control over form, body, and equipment. The introduction of the yellow flag at the end of the show was a fantastic splash of color and the ensemble flag statement they performed with it was just...breathtaking.
WGI fans also voted AMP the 2019 Independent A Class Fans' Favorite
In 2nd Place, with a score of 95.080, was St. Ann's (Neponset, MA), with their program, "Passageways." St. Ann's, of course, has a long history with WGI, being involved in the performing arts for at least 86 years (in various incarnations). They last came to Dayton in 2015, when they won Independent A class, and this year's show was just as impressive.
This year's program demonstrated St. Ann's excellent equipment training and technique. The show made great use of negative space and oppositional staging, balancing performers on the opposing sides of the floor. It really was an enjoyable program, from start to finish, and an excellent representation of the St. Ann's tradition.
In 1st Place, with a score of 98.055, was Icon Winter Guard (Los Angeles, CA) with their program, "Break Some Ice." I simply can't say enough great things about this program and this show: these performers are superbly trained, exhibiting phenomenal control over their body and equipment performances. This is, perhaps, be exemplified in the opening rifle feature atop the platforms. The rifle line performed incredibly nuanced rifle work that required balance, precision, and extreme control.
This excellence continued throughout the entirety of the program, well earning their score of 98.055. The guard moved sublimely, spun amazingly, and really sold a show that was well above A Class in terms of content.
On behalf of FloMarching, I would like to congratulate every A Class guard who made it to this year's 2018 WGI Guard World Championships Finals, and I look forward to seeing what you have to offer us in 2020.