SAN ANTONIO — Peyton Grunzke didn’t move. Drum major after drum major stepped forward and gave their salute. Soon enough, she was the only one who hadn’t moved.
The hollers of “Bloo” rained down from the more than 12,800 packed into the Alamodome. Still in her while polka-dotted suit, she stayed stone-faced, resisting a smile most would let slip after their corps name echoes through the stadium as champion.
She needed to hear it, though — a gesture indicative of just how tight Saturday’s DCI Southwestern Championship presented by Fred J. Miller, Inc. was.
The Bluecoats edged the Blue Devils by just two tenths of a point to capture San Antonio gold.
“It feels really good to take first here in San Antonio,” Grunzke said. “It’s really gratifying. A lot of the things we do are not the norm, so it’s cool that people in the community can recognize how awesome our show is and how much work we put into it.
“I think it makes us appreciate it more.”
The Alamo City victory bumps Bluecoats’ undefeated streak to 19 and gives the Canton, Ohio corps its third head-to-head win over Blue Devils and seventh over Santa Clara Vanguard.
1. Bluecoats » 91.213
2. Blue Devils » 91.013
3. Santa Clara Vanguard » 90.475
This wasn’t a conventional win for Bluecoats. Despite trailing Blue Devils in both general effect and visual by a combined 0.1 points, they used an edge of 0.3 in the music caption to jump ahead.
While Blue Devils took fourth in music, overall wins and general effect and visual pushed the Concord corps closer to Bluecoats than they’ve been in any of their three meetings this season.
“We always talk about Saturday nights,” Blue Devils drum major Everett Kim said. “There’s only so many left, and getting this one down and getting in that rhythm of leading up and pushing towards Saturday night is really important for us and I feel like we really achieved that tonight.”
Vanguard also closed its gap on second place, pulling within just over half a point of Blue Devils after losses of 0.5 and 0.6 earlier this week. The defending world champions took home top honors in percussion.
4. Carolina Crown » 88.863
5. Boston Crusaders » 88.513
6. The Cavaliers » 87.500
On July 5, Boston overtook Carolina Crown at the Lexington, South Carolina show in what some figured may be a turning point in the season. At the next show, Crown righted the ship en route to four straight victories over the Boston corps, including Saturday.
But the San Antonio competition once again showed Boston’s resilience. On Thursday, Boston trailed Crown by nearly a point. Two days later, on the biggest stage to date, Boston rebounded and came within three tenths of knocking off Crown.
Once again, though, Crown’s music caption was too profound, besting both Boston and The Cavaliers by more than a point each.
“We try to replicate what we’re going to feel like at the DCI Finals at these kind of shows because they’re very similar — We’re inside, big crowd, different listening environment,” said Carolina Crown drum major Doug Bell. “This is a really big show for us and I’m really glad we delivered tonight.”
The Cavaliers also had a strong night, staying just under a point back of Boston while notching a head-to-head win in the music caption. Saturday marked the smallest gap between those two corps this season.
7. Blue Knights » 85.550
8. Blue Stars » 85.225
9. The Cadets » 83.575
In their first head-to-head meeting of 2019 in San Antonio, Blue Knights took a slim lead over the Blue Stars. Both corps are in position to either match or improve upon last year’s finishes, as Blue Stars earned eighth a year ago, while the Denver corps finished ninth.
Each compiled more than a point-and-a-half advantage over the Allentown, Pennsylvania corps made up in large part to a strong showing in the music caption.
“We’ve tried to get the product as close to what we want it to be as early on as possible because we have such a difficult show this year,” Blue Knights drum major Daniel Belcher said. “Our thought was get it out there, get it to be what we want it to be, so then we have more time to clean it.”
That’s paid off. Blue Knights’ lead in the music caption propelled them ahead of Blue Stars despite falling behind the Wisconsin corps in visual. While The Cadets found themselves at the back end of this trio, their consistently-strong percussion caption earned fifth place overall.
10. Mandarins » 82.175
11. Crossmen » 81.875
12. Phantom Regiment » 80.613
The recent race unfolding between Mandarins and Crossmen is also one of the tightest across the leaderboard, as neither has defeated the other head-to-head more than once in a row.
After Crossmen opened up an early 1.7-point lead July 9 in Sioux City, the Sacramento corps jumped ahead six days later by half a point. Most recently, the San Antonio corps defeated Mandarins by eight tenths, but that result flipped again at the Alamodome.
This time, though, it’s closer than ever. Mandarins held slim leads in both general effect and visual — the latter of which also saw Mandarins defeat The Cadets — but the San Antonio corps owned a strong advantage in music to keep things tight.
“We did a lot of work over this past week to make sure we not only throw down a great show but that we throw down a great show in front of our home crowd,” Crossmen drum major Lydia Marshall said. “I think we’re putting ourselves in a great place to have a nice season.”
Phantom Regiment certainly remained within striking distance of both corps; the margin separating the Rockford corps from Crossmen hasn’t been this low since the two met July 3 in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. That’s largely thanks to music, a caption in which Regiment finished ahead of both Crossmen and Mandarins.
“We’ve come a long way in this past week, especially preparing for this specific show, and I think it really showed up,” Phantom Regiment drum major Claire Wilcox said. “It was a really awesome, energetic show.”
13. Spirit of Atlanta » 78.875
14. The Academy » 77.513
15. Colts » 76.725
Spirit of Atlanta kept within striking distance of the Top 12; the Georgia corps finished a hair behind Phantom Regiment in visual and defeated the Rockford corps specifically in color guard.
“I think the corps was definitely feeling very excited coming in here,” Spirit of Atlanta drum major Bailey Burks said. “We were right after intermission so we had time to relax, chill in the tunnels and come out here and give a really good performance.”
For the second time in as many meetings, The Academy defeated Colts head-to-head thanks to particularly strong scores in general effect, a caption in which it finished just a tenth of a point behind Spirit of Atlanta.
Prior to this week, Colts owned a perfect record against The Academy in six meetings, but recent changes to its production, “The Bridge Between,” sparked the Arizona corps forward into the season’s first regional.
“That was a good run for us,” The Academy drum major Sierra Rogers said. “You would not believe we were marching the same show. The last two weeks alone, we’ve put on a whole new closer. We’ve changed some small details. It’s incredible to be able to present for the audience who obviously loved it so much.”
16. Pacific Crest » 75.200
17. Madison Scouts » 73.500
18. Troopers » 72.563
In its first opportunity to face off with many of DCI’s eastern and midwestern corps, Pacific Crest made serious noise, finishing ahead of Madison Scouts — by a strong margin — for the first time since 2007 and the sixth time ever.
The Southern California corps put up eye-catching numbers in general effect — ultimately tying Colts in that caption — and cracked 75 points earlier than it has in any year since 2014.
“We were so excited for this show,” Pacific Crest drum major Bianca Dulong said. “Musically, we’ve improved a lot and have been refining everything technique-wise.”
Madison Scouts put up impressive numbers in the music caption, tying Pacific Crest overall and defeating the Diamond Bar corps in percussion. Troopers also finished ahead of Pacific Crest and The Academy in percussion.
19. Genesis » 70.588
20. Music City » 70.300
21. Jersey Surf » 68.375
22. Seattle Cascades » 64.900
Genesis, Music City, Jersey Surf and Seattle Cascades rounded out the World Class field in San Antonio. The DCI Southwestern Championship can offer surprises all over the leaderboard, and Genesis proved that on Saturday.
The Austin corps, performing just an hour and a half south of its hometown, scored higher than Music City for the first time since early last season, erasing what was a 1.25-point deficit Thursday night in Belton.
Music City, though, defeated Genesis head-to-head in music, with subcaption wins in brass and music analysis.
“We really started over the past week improving on performance energy and really getting to that next level,” Music City drum major Patrick Nelson said. “Instead of playing the right notes and rhythms, we’re playing music.”
Jersey Surf, which has arguably raced out to its best start in years, closed the gap on Music City. Surf also topped Seattle Cascades for the second time since 2015, and by its widest margin since 2013.
“All the energy that needed to be there was there,” Jersey Surf drum major Dante Salina said. “This was the strongest start we’ve had in a decade and we obviously want to keep that going. I have a feeling this show is going to keep us going in that direction.”
Cascades put up strong marks in the percussion caption, finishing ahead of Surf, Music City and Genesis.
1. Guardians » 60.225
The lone representatives of Drum Corps International’s Open Class at Saturday’s event, the Houston-based Guardians performed for their home state crowd finishing with a score of 60.225.
“It was a different level today,” Guardians’ drum major Brian Lyke said. “Everyone’s dream is to march in San Antonio; most of us grew up in Texas. When you do drum corps, this is where you want to be.”
1. Compass » Gold (85.100)
2. Arsenal » Silver (80.800)
Two SoundSport teams kicked off the action at the Alamodome Saturday afternoon. Midland, Texas team Compass earned a gold rating and the coveted Best of Show honors. After debuting in San Antonio in 2017, Arsenal, a group from Albuquerque, New Mexico, earned a silver rating from the panel.
After a day off in San Antonio on Sunday, more than half of Saturday’s performing corps will make one last Texas stop in Mesquite before making their east toward Atlanta for next weekend’s DCI Southeastern Championship presented by Lone Star Percussion.