The final 14 days of the 2013 Drum Corps International tour began Sunday, July 28 with the Blue Devils (92.90) taking first place at the DCI Southeastern Championship in Atlanta. This marks the seventh year since 2006 that the corps has won under the roof of the Georgia Dome. After winning the last two of its match-ups against Carolina Crown (2nd, 92.55), Saturday in Charlotte, N.C., and Friday in Murfreesboro, Tenn., the 2012 World Champions came in ahead again, this time by 0.35 points. "The members are starting to bring new performance qualities to the table that we've never seen before," Blue Devils Drum Major Kristen Lichtenthal said. "Little personal tidbits and stylized movements that give the show a whole new life." While the Blue Devils earned first in the Visual and Music captions, Carolina Crown finished three tenths of a point ahead in General Effect. "The performance was electric," Carolina Crown Drum Major Hunter Bown said. "With a crowd this big, the noise in the background just kept us going. It's an awesome venue, and it really fueled our fire."
Carolina Crown took fifth in percussion (17.7) for the second night in a row, three tenths of a point behind the Bluecoats, followed by Santa Clara Vanguard in third, the Cadets in second, and Blue Devils in first. The Cadets (3rd, 92.00), Santa Clara Vanguard (4th, 91.35), and Phantom Regiment (5th, 89.00) rounded out the top five corps, finishing in the same order as eight days earlier at the DCI Southwestern Championship in San Antonio, which also featured all 22 of DCI's World Class corps. "We've been consistently working hard," Cadets Drum Major Zack Travis said. "We'll just keep pushing. That's what we do." Travis said that the Cadets are especially looking forward to the week ahead as the corps travels north toward its Allentown, Pa. hometown for the DCI Eastern Classic next Friday and Saturday. Eight tenths of a point behind Phantom Regiment came the Bluecoats (6th, 88.20), followed by Madison Scouts (7th, 86.20), the Cavaliers (8th, 85.35), Boston Crusaders (9th, 85.00), Blue Knights (10th, 84.55), Spirit of Atlanta (11th, 82.70) and Blue Stars (12th, 82.15).
Boston Crusaders finished thirty-five hundredths of a point behind the Cavaliers, closer than the two corps have scored since two weeks before in Minneapolis. At fifty-five hundredths of a point behind Spirit, the Blue Stars are slowly narrowing the gap between the two. "I think the corps has grown a lot closer together in the past couple weeks since the big regional events started," Blue Stars Drum Major Zack Crissman said. "All season we've tried to bounce back from a drop in placement last year, and it's helped us come together as we try to show DCI what we really have." After trailing Crossmen (14th, 79.95) by 1.05 points the night before in Huntsville, Ala., Troopers (13th, 80.35) came out four tenths of a point ahead in Atlanta, while also breaking the 80-point mark for the first time this season. Colts (77.75) came in 15th place, followed by Pacific Crest (16th, 77.30).
"From the start of the season, we had a go-get-it attitude, meaning everyone strives to do their best all the time," Pacific Crest Drum Major Tim Yao said. "As the season's progressed, we've been able to see how that mindset has helped. After all the hard work, the payoff is coming out of that stadium knowing you gave it your all." After finishing 19th the weekend before at the DCI Southwestern Championship, Mandarins (17th, 75.50) jumped ahead of the Academy (18th, 74.55) and Oregon Crusaders (19th, 74.40). "We're feeling really good," Mandarins Drum Major Jim Brennan said. "We've made a lot of progress, which gives everyone a lot of energy during rehearsals, and is really starting to show on the field. We've made a couple of changes that really brought the story along, and we're looking forward to continuing a strong season." According to Brennan, a large part of the corps members' dedication this summer stems not only from the celebration of the Mandarins' 50th anniversary, but also its production, "Destination America: Journey of the Paper Sons," and its story of a young Chinese boy trying to immigrate to the United States in the 1930s.
"The show really speaks to the heritage of the corps and a lot of the alumni especially feel a deep connection to it," Brennan said. Jersey Surf (20th, 70.65) landed ahead of Cascades and Pioneer, which tied for 21st, each scoring 68.85 overall. Out of all the World Class corps, Pioneer made the largest improvement in overall score (5.85 points) since the weekend before in San Antonio. "We came out here on fire, we really gave it 100 percent," Cascades drum major Jared St. Clair said. "I can't wait until the World Championships when we can really see what we can do with this show." No Open Class corps attended the DCI Southeastern Championship, but local all-age corps Atlanta CV (78.90) performed, as well as Carolina Gold (72.00) from Greensboro, North Carolina. View a complete recap of scores from the DCI Southeastern Championship in Atlanta. View a photo gallery from this event on Facebook. Live Blog: DCI Atlanta Southeastern Championship. View the complete 2013 DCI Tour schedule. Contributing to this report: Jessica Skogh.