The annual Bands of America Grand National Championships start this week. It is the most prestigious marching band show in the country, and 94 bands will converge on Indianapolis this weekend. We’ll provide a few thoughts on who is in the running for the title, who will solidly be in finals, who is “on the bubble”, who we think will be in Semifinals, and who has a shot at making Semifinals.
Here’s how advancement works, from the BOA rule book:
Thirty bands (or more if necessary to accommodate participation by all classes) will advance to Semi-Finals. Three criteria will be used to select Semi-Finalist Bands. They are as follows:
(a) The 11 highest scoring Bands in each Prelims (22 total), regardless of class will advance; plus
(b) The next eight highest scoring Bands determined from a combination of remaining scores from Prelims 1 and 2, regardless of class will advance; plus
(c) The two highest scoring Bands from each of the four classes from each Prelims, should they not already be among the Bands selected based on criteria a and b above, will advance.
Grand Nationals is always a pretty difficult show to predict accurately who all will advance from prelims to semifinals, and semifinals to finals, but we’ll give it a shot.
This is a pretty good day of bands. As of right now, I count 6 absolute “locks” for Semi Finals: Avon, Lawrence Township, Union, Homestead (making their first Grand Nationals appearance in 20 years), William Mason and Center Grove. 5 spots remain in the top 11 grouping, and those look like they’ll go to Ben Davis, O’Fallon Township, Lafayette, Upland, and North Hardin, which takes away one AA advancement opportunity.
This is a pretty strong day. First things first, Tarpon Springs and Marian Catholic will both advance, taking away the automatic two AA qualifying spots for Friday. Other locks include Owasso, Lake Central, Broken Arrow, Carmel, and Wando. Others in the top 11 look to be Flower Mound, Plymouth-Canton, Kennesaw Mountain and Franklin, taking away the two automatic bids for Class AAA.
This is the grouping of the “next 8 highest scoring bands regardless of class.” This is usually a pretty tough call, but I think they’re looking to go to Dobyns-Bennett, Castle, Centerville, Father Ryan, Lockport Township, Walled Lake Central (AAA 1 Thursday), Wakeland, and Lake Park.
Class A: Thursday, Adair County looks to be a certainty to advance. Sport two will be between Monrovia, Ada, and Archbishop Alter. Alter was ahead of Monrovia at the Indianapolis Super Regional by 2.7 points, and they look to be the front runners here. Friday, Bellbrook will advance easily. Norton, Ohio will likely be the second A band to advance.
Class AA: Class AA Friday automatic advancement is taken by Marian Catholic and Tarpon Springs. North Hardin will advance from Thursday, and that leaves the second AA spot up between Jenison, Reeths-Puffer, and Greenwood Community. Greenwood placed 3rd in Class AAA at the BOA Indianapolis Super Regional, and Reeths-Puffer had the upper hand over Jenison at the Toledo regional placing 4th and 5th overall, respectively. Reeths-Puffer and Jenison also placed 1-2 at the Michigan Flight II State Finals, and Greenwood placed 1st in ISSMA Class B State Finals. This is a tough 2nd band to predict advancing, but it looks like Greenwood will do so.
Class AAA: Thursday has one slot open. Walled Lake Central will secure the first spot, and it looks like spot two will be between Milford (Ohio) and Victor J. Andrew. Milford placed 4th at the Dayton regional, a considerable margin behind William Mason in 1st. Victor J. Andrew has had a pretty solid year, placing 8th in their class at the BOA Indianapolis Super Regional. Rock Hill (SC) has a fair shot as well, after placing 9th at the Winston-Salem regional in mid October.
Others in the mix to advance to Semi Finals: Cary, NC, DeSoto Central, MS, James Madison, VA, Bassett, VA, Father Ryan, TN, Miamisburg, OH, Panther Creek, NC, Brunswick, OH, Lake Orion, MI
Semi Finals Class Placements:
Class A: This will be close between Bellbrook and Adair County, both of whom are having good seasons. Bellbrook recently placed 17th at the Indianapolis Super Regional, and Adair County placed 6th at the early season Louisville regional. Both were close last year, and I think Bellbrook will repeat as Class A National Champions.
Class AA: This will be the closest class of the weekend between Marian Catholic and Tarpon Springs. Both are in the conversation for the Eagle-something I’ll get to in a bit. It all comes down to performance time and strength of performance in semifinals, and both of these bands could quite possibly split the captions AND each win a different show (Prelims/Semi Finals/Finas). I’ll give the nod to Tarpon, but I hope to be wrong about that.
Class AAA: This could be interesting. Franklin AND Castle have both had great years up to this point, with Castle winning the early season Louisville regional and placing 9th in Indianapolis. Franklin was 2nd at the aforementioned Louisville regional, and 5th at the Indianapolis regional. That alone would make it interesting, but throw in Kennesaw Mountain, who has placed 2nd to Harrison twice this season in Powder Springs and Jacksonville. This will be close, but we think Kennesaw Mountain will pull it off with Franklin possibly snagging a finals spot.
Class AAAA: The battle of the big guns here between Avon, Carmel, Broken Arrow. All are in the hunt for the Eagle, and Broken Arrow ran away with the St. Louis regional. Avon won the Indianapolis regional by a strong 1.3 over Carmel, and also won the Class A title at State Finals over Carmel. This is a tough class, and I’m not really comfortable with making a pick here yet.
Bands Making Finals:
Absolute Locks: Avon, Carmel, Broken Arrow, Marian Catholic, Tarpon Springs
Should be solidly in: Homestead, William Mason, Kennesaw Mountain, Wando
On the Bubble: Owasso, Union, Flower Mound, Lawrence Township, Franklin, Center Grove, Lake Central, Plymouth-Canton, O’Fallon Township
On the Outside Looking In: Lafayette, Centerville
Bands in Contention for the Title: I’m not fully comfortable making my pick just yet, but I think these five bands will be in the hunt come Saturday night:
Avon/Carmel: Of course these two are in the conversation. These two play and move so well that they will always be in the hunt to keep the Eagle in Indiana.
Broken Arrow: An almost 4 point win at the St. Louis Super Regional over Blue Springs plus a 6A State Title will once again put Broken Arrow in the conversation.
Marian Catholic: 3rd place at the Indianapolis regional is about where they were expected to finish. Throw in an overly demanding program that the students are playing extremely well, plus three weeks to clean between Indianapolis and Grand Nationals, and this is a program that will make finals for the 31st consecutive year and be in the hunt for their 8th National Championship.
Tarpon Springs: Yet another thoroughly enjoyable and demanding show from Tarpon Springs. Don’t miss them this weekend. They won the Atlanta regional by 4.9 over William Mason, who will likely be in Finals this weekend as well. That’s an astounding amount to win a regional by, especially with strong bands behind them. They’ll be in the conversation this weekend to bring the Grand Nationals title back to Florida for the first time since 1980.
Best of luck to all bands this weekend!