One week after breaking the Blue Devils’ winning streak, the Cadets continued one of their own Saturday night in San Antonio by taking first place over the Concord corps by 0.325 points at the DCI Southwestern Championships presented by Fred J. Miller, Inc.
It was their fourth straight win, with each coming in the past six days. In addition to taking the top score, the Cadets swept the overall music and general effect captions on the score sheet.
“The kind of comments we’re receiving [in rehearsals] now are the kind of comments we [typically] get the week of Finals, so it’s really awesome to see the staff so excited about how our season is going and how [well] the members are doing so early in July,” said Cadets drum major Kendall Stevenson.
Saturday’s indoor event, which kept performers shielded from 90-degree temperatures outside, marked the first time in the 2015 season that all 22 World Class corps competed head-to-head. Fans took advantage of the opportunity. A crowd of 12,191 spectators was the largest paid attendance for a DCI event at the Alamodome in 10 years.
The Cadets had been dealing with the heat since moving through Missouri earlier in the week, but Stevenson says the corps has “pushed back” against the conditions, which helped them going into tonight’s event.
“I think the members came onto the field very prepared and ready to take over the stadium,” Stevenson said. “We had a lot of really good rehearsals leading up to this.”
The Cadets’ score of 87.625 is the highest score of the 2015 DCI Tour to date.
The Blue Devils (2nd, 87.300) continued to keep the competition close. They narrowed the deficit to the Cadets from yesterday’s event in Houston and took first place in the overall visual caption. In their past six meetings, neither corps has had a margin of victory greater than four tenths of a point.
Hot on the Devils’ heels are Carolina Crown (3rd, 86.200), the Bluecoats (4th, 85.625), and Santa Clara Vanguard (5th, 84.825). Carolina Crown was the victor in the color guard caption, while Vanguard put pressure on the Cadets’ percussion section with a second-place finish in that caption.
The Blue Knights took sixth with a score of 81.900. The Denver corps is attempting to establish itself as a legitimate force on the 2015 tour as corps members work to achieve the best finish in the corps’ history.
“It’s been a great year for us and the corps continues to surprise us every night they come out,” said Mark Arnold, executive director of the Blue Knights. “They’re having fun performing our production and that’s what this is all about.”
Arnold explained that as the Blue Knights continue to propel themselves higher in the standings, the corps’ achievements are due to a total team effort.
“The success is owed to a great design team, a great staff that’s been consistent, and membership that keeps getting more talented and believes in what we’re doing,” Arnold said. “We’re developing our own identity and our people are latching onto that. That’s why we’re growing and why our performances are so strong.“
Nothing is guaranteed, however, as the Cavaliers (7th, 81.825) and Phantom Regiment (8th, 80.975) both made competitive surges and continue to chase the Blue Knights.
While the Madison Scouts (9th, 79.200) were able to separate themselves from their nearest competitors, the next group of corps remained as tightly packed as ever.
The Boston Crusaders (10th, 77.725) leapfrogged the Crossmen (11th, 77.425), and the Blue Stars (12th, 77.150) kept pace, but none of the three corps were able to gain a clear upper hand.
The Troopers made a solid charge for a spot among the top 12, but were unable to quite finish the job, placing 13th by just under nine tenths of a point with a score of 76.275.
Behind them, the Colts (14th, 75.225), who had been tied with the Academy a week ago in Denver, now have a more than one-point lead on the Arizona corps, which finished in 15th with a score of 74.075. Spirit of Atlanta finished in 16th (71.800).
Academy drum major JT Ziervogel is proud of how his corps has improved throughout the season.
“They’ve grown exponentially,” Ziervogel said. “I’ve been with this corps for three years, and this is by far the smartest drum corps, and I would say the most talented drum corps [I’ve been with]. To see how they take in the information given to them by the staff in reherasals, and then switch it over to the performance, is incredible.“
“The details we go into in rehearsal the past couple weeks have been something I’ve never seen in this corps,” Ziervogel added. “This is shaping up to definitely be a season to remember.”
West Coast corps continued to move forward as well, with the Mandarins, Oregon Crusaders and Pacific Crest locked in tight competition. The Mandarins and Oregon Crusaders were level in 17th place with a tied score of 69.475. Pacific Crest remained close behind them in 19th at 67.450.
According to Oregon Crusaders drum major Anna Quenemoen, the corps had one of its strongest runs of the season, thanks in large part to the protection the Alamodome offered from the outdoor elements.
“Well, it’s air conditioned. That helps more than it should,” Quenemoen said. “It lets the players focus on the music, and it gives you all the right conditions to do your best.”
The most recent addition to the lineup of World Class corps, the Crusaders are still young relative to their peers. But Quenemoen says the corps is working hard to improve each day.
“I’ve seen them all grow up a ton and mature a lot,” Quenemoen said. “Just in terms of learning how to do their jobs and learning how to treat others. All these little things are making for a very strong experience.”
And Quenemoen says there’s still more room to grow.
“The story’s not done yet,” she said. “We still have a lot to put out on the field. There’s a plot to our show, and there’s not quite an ending yet. Hopefully, that’ll get out there soon.”
Cascades (20th, 64.200), Jersey Surf (21st, 63.550) and Pioneer (22nd, 57.775) rounded out the World Class division.
“We have a lot of young and new members that have never marched with us before,” Pioneer drum major Alisha Cardwell said. “A lot of them are freshmen and sophomores in high school. And to see these people barely able to hold up their horns at the beginning of the season and then to see them perform so well at the Alamodome, that’s just amazing.”
Due to transportation issues, Pioneer was delayed in arriving to the Alamodome and was the last corps to perform after the Blue Devils. Despite the circumstances, Cardwell is pleased with her corps’ performance.
“We’ve had a lot of things against us today,” Cardwell said. “We pushed through, and we didn’t let anything get in our way. That was the best show we’ve ever put on the field since I’ve been here and for years before that”
In Open Class competition, Genesis continued its strong season by besting the three-corps field with a score of 61.350.
It was Genesis’ fourth competition in five days, and the corps from Austin has been atop the Open Class division in each of them.
The Louisiana Stars took second with a score of 56.900, with the Guardians finishing in third place with a score of 54.950. Both corps will wrap up their 2015 tours on Monday, with the Louisiana Stars returning home to Lafayette and the Guardians finishing in Dallas.
“The season’s going great,” Guardians drum major Alicia Villanueva said. “What other corps do in three months we do in three weeks. I can’t be more proud of that.”
The Guardians’ abbreviated tour through Texas only began last week. The Southwestern Championship is the largest show of the season for the Houston-based corps, and performing in the Alamodome is a special treat.
“It’s nothing like I’ve ever done before,” Villanueva said. “It was a phenomenal, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hopefully more than once in a lifetime--I still have a couple years left."
International Class corps, Jubal, from Dordrecht, the Netherlands, performed between the Open Class and World Class groups and received a score of 53.500.
Jubal returns to the states this summer for the first time since it celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2011. The corps will compete at a number of DCI events, finishing its tour at the DCI World Championships this August in Indianapolis.
Contributing: Casey Smith