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Remembering the 2013 BOA season that was

By Will Barnette

The year 2013 was a fantastic one for Bands of America and its fans. Close finishes, high achievement, and entertaining shows were on surplus this season, capped off by a well deserved 96.8 for the BOA Grand National Champion Band, The Woodlands. But looking into the future, what will the 2013 BOA season be remembered for many years from now? To solve this problem, I compiled a list of things I think will be remembered from the 2013 Calendar year.

The Texas Regionals and San Antonio Super Regional
Was this not the year for Texas? Not only did they bring home the Eagle and put all five attending Texas bands into Grand National Finals, but the state hosted some of the best BOA regionals in the entire nation. The Texas season got off to an unfortunate start after rain cancelled finals for the Austin regional, but the results are unbelievable looking back. The top 9 bands were all within 5.2 points of one another, and Bowie won the regional by a mere .35 points over Claudia Taylor Johnson. Looking back, the craziest placement is Cedar Ridge, coming in 9th with a 79.5. A couple weeks later they were fifth in Grand National Semifinals!

After the Conroe regional presented The Woodlands with its first of many wins on the BOA circuit, the buzz wasn't about who won, but about the margin between the top 5 and Reagan. CTJ once again finished a close second, behind by just .3, Cedar Ridge made a huge jump from Austin, landing in third, and Hebron and Cedar Park took fourth and fifth. The reigning Grand National finalist Ronald Reagan stood in seventh, over four points behind the top 5.

The drama escalated even further the next weekend, when powerhouses Marcus and LD Bell were defeated by Hebron at the Dallas regional in arguably the biggest upset of the 2013 season. Because of their past records, Marcus and LD Bell were considered by some as contenders to win the Eagle in Indianapolis before Hebron defeated the two in both music and GE.

Finally, the drama reached its climax the first weekend of November. The Alamo Dome played host to one of the greatest San Antonio Super Regionals ever. The amount of talent on the field finals night was unbelievable. With the Top 14 being separated by a mere 7.35 points, margins were as thin as ever. Coppell, who won Class AAAA music in prelims, dropped to 12th, while rivals Cedar Ridge and Round Rock tied with an 87.7 for 11 and 10 (RR received the better placement because of the GE tiebreaker rule). After that, LD Bell and Marcus were announced as 9th and 8th, shocking everyone who was watching the live stream with me in a small upper room in Tennessee. Vandegrift, who didn't even make finals in 2012, took the music caption and 7th place overall. Blue Springs, the lone band from outside of Texas, snagged 6th place, but that was just the beginning of the chaos. Ronald Reagan came out of nowhere to finish in 5th, Claudia Taylor Johnson, who took GE and 2nd place in Class AAAA in prelims, finished 4th, and James Bowie took 3rd. Then the top 2 were announced and The Woodlands, who did not even place in class in prelims, defeated Hebron by five hundredths of a point to win the super regional with a 92.70.

All of these events shaped the BOA story lines for 2013, especially San Antonio. Suddenly bands that were considered “locks” for Grand National Finals, like LD Bell and Marcus, were moved onto the bubble, and bands like Vandegrift (Class AAA Champion and Music Caption Winner) came out of nowhere to surprise people. The most talked about story line between these events, however, has to be Hebron vs. The Woodlands. It was too close to call, but imagine if Hebron had gone to Grand Nationals. Would they have taken home the Eagle? It's hard to know, but these regionals will be remembered for a long time by the BOA community for their quality of performance as well as the close margins of victory.

New BOA Contenders Continue to Rise, While Members of the Old Guard Have Futures in Question
2013 saw the rise of groups like Vandegrift, Lake Central, and Franklin. Vandegrift, as I touched on above, went from not making finals at San Antonio in 2012 to placing 7th overall, 1st in music, and 1st in Class AAA at San Antonio 2013. They also won their Class UIL State Championship. Lake Central took home their first ever regional victory in style, with a four point win at Toledo in late September, then went on to culminate their season with a solid 14th place finish at Grand Nationals. Lake Central is officially a part of the Indiana elite and should be considered a contender for finals if they continue on this path of improvement. Lastly, Franklin defeated Harrison again at a southeastern regional, this time in Powder Springs, Georgia, and finished nine places higher at Grand Nats 2013 compared to 2012.

Other bands, however, might be starting to fall from the mountaintop. LD Bell, the 2007 champion, was 13th in prelims of Grand Nationals and just points away from missing finals for the first time since they started making finals. Marian Catholic finished in 10th after two recent top five finishes, and Plymouth Canton EP fell to 17th just one year after they made finals in 2012. They also slipped from 1st to 4th at Michigan's State Finals! Lastly, Lassiter High School seems to having some internal struggles despite their decisive victory at BOA Towson. Many questions have encircled the program after the Marietta Daily Journal published a very shady article about an aura of negativity surrounding the program since Ginny Markham’s hiring last spring. I don't want to make any accusations because it's not really clear who is in the wrong, but this sort of tension in a band program can't be good. All of the bands mentioned here have won Grand National Championships in the past, but now the question is will any of these bands ever get back to the glory days they once enjoyed?

And of Course, Some Very Memorable Shows
What would the point of this be without talking about some of the HornRank team’s very favorite shows? It’s often quickly forgotten who won or lost each season, but there are some shows and moments we just can’t get out of our head. These include:

Round Rock’s entire show, but especially their opening hit-WOW! (They also have the best uniforms in all of BOA)

When The Woodlands opened their train gates and marched straight forward blowing everyone's ears off

Lake Central’s rendition of “Pure Imagination”

Any of Harrison's big hits and when they spelled "Scarlett" with umbrellas at the end of their show

The Woodlands and Carmel’s respective drum feature/dance around an object

Avon’s ridiculously demanding drill and music achievement

Dobyns-Bennett’s preshow

Hebron. Everything Hebron.

Everyone in the crowd collectively wondering what Mason’s placement would have been if it was a male color guard killing inflatable bride dolls (though we do admire their creativity)

Cedar Ridge’s vocal soloist

The entertainment value of Broken Arrow and Tarpon Springs, as always

As cliche as it sounds, we could name many more, and that was what was so great about this season of BOA.

All in all, the Bands of America 2013 season did not disappoint. I can’t wait to see if 2014 can top it.

This is the first of many features and long form writing pieces to be published here on HornRank.com. If you have any questions, comments, or additions to our list, please comment below or email me. I’d love to answer your questions in a future column! Jeremiah Wooten and Casey Littleton contributed to this post.

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