Given how big this show is, I figured it warranted it's own thread. I'll do a separate one for U of I, and then one for the other shows (posted probably Wednesday).
ISU is the largest prelims/finals format show in the state. Hosted in Hancock stadium, ISU has 42 bands in prelims. Awards ceremonies are held after every two classes. Assuming finals format remains the same as in recent years, 14 bands will perform in finals- 7 bands are selected from 1A-4A and 7 bands from 5A-6A. Class champions receive an automatic bid into finals, and then bands are taken by order of highest scores to fill out the remaining spots in each grouping. Finals were cancelled last year due to weather.
Eureka has won this class for the last several years and is my pick to repeat again this year. I’m struggling with predicting the other placements in this class. University has been having a strong year. Herscher won this class in 2015. IVC and Macomb are both programs with rich histories and scored near each other at Limestone. Mater Dei has not attended ISU since 2004 when they placed 2nd in Class A. Olympia is also in this class and has strong showings at their shows this year. Going mainly on my gut and not much else, I’ll go with University in 2nd, Herscher in 3rd.
This class has gone to Morton every year since 2005, and I predict they win the class again. Limestone has been in finals twice in the last five years and is my pick for 2nd place. In third place, my pick is Providence Catholic. Lincoln Community was last at ISU in 2015 when they placed 3rd. Metamora was a finalist at ISU in the early 80s. Also in the class are the Marching Indians from Marengo.
There is perhaps no program more storied than Marian Catholic. Marian has won their class every year since 1980 and won finals since 2009. Bloomington was 2nd in this class last year and looks to repeat that placement again this year. Dunlap has moved up a class this year, but could definitely place 3rd in this class like they did when they were in 2A. Lemont (2016), United Township (2010) and Danville (1990) are all previous finalists competing in this class. Kaneland is also competing in this class.
This class looks to be very close between John Hersey and Rock Island. If I had to go with one I’ll choose John Hersey based on their past success in this class for the last two years. Batavia and Elk Grove are going to be looking at the number 3 spot in this class. Argo and Brother Rice/Mother McAuley are the performing in this class as well.
Every band in class 5A has made finals before- all except one in the last 5 years. Having already won a BOA regional this year, and returning after having the highest 5A/6A prelims score last year, O’Fallon is my prediction to win 5A. Prospect and VJA were in 2nd and 3rd here last year. I think they are in those slots again this year and close in scores. Edwardsville and Wheaton North are also in this class.
Class 6A includes three school district based marching bands- Rockford, Normal and Lincoln- Way. Kicking of Class A is the Huntley High School Marching Red Raiders. Huntley is followed by 2016 finalist, Naperville Central. After the break is William Howard Taft who is fairly new to the competitive marching band scene. Joliet West presents their show “without WORDS” in class 6A as well. Lockport is one of only a few Illinois bands to have made semi-finals at Grand Nationals in the last few years, and are a major contender in this class. Normal West and Normal Community combined marching bands this season. Both bands have individually made finals before, and as a combined band are definitely part of the conversation here. Downers Grove South is no stranger to finals, having made it 5 times since 2010. Coming off of their second place finish at DGS this weekend, Lake Park is poised to do very well. The returning class winner, the combined Lincoln-Way band is my prediction to win Class 6A.
It’s particularly tough to pick finals at ISU this year. I will say that I think O’Fallon, Marian, and Lincoln-Way are top 3. O’Fallon was 14th last year at Grand Nationals and is my pick to win finals at ISU (a first for them), as they continue the momentum into November. I think this will be a particularly strong group of finalists this year and potentially a few first-time finalists.