For the first time since 2006, a new champion was crowned at the Georgia Dome during the DCI Southeastern Championship in Atlanta.
With a record-setting 18,074 spectators in the audience on Saturday, Carolina Crown (1st, 91.500) ascended to the top, finishing ahead of the Blue Devils (2nd, 91.475) by a mere 0.025 points.
“All the hard work that we put in these past couple days has shown up and we were on fire tonight,” Crown Drum Major Emily Salgado said. “Tonight’s performance had that feeling that things finally clicked. We haven’t experienced something like that yet, and it was just mind blowing tonight.”
Carolina Crown dethroned the Blue Devils, who had won the previous night in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The loss was unfamiliar territory for the Blue Devils, who have won eight of the nine previous times the Southeastern Championship has been hosted at the Georgia Dome.
The Cadets took third place (90.800) and were among the three corps first to break 90 points in 2015.
As they did last weekend in San Antonio, Bluecoats finished in fourth (89.525). The corps from Ohio brought the audience to its feet while introducing a brand new ending to its production, “Kinetic Noise.”
“We always feel on-edge with a show [concept] like this,” Bluecoats drum major Willie Veenstra said. “We’re always pushing the boundaries and making changes, and I’m looking forward to seeing where our new [show] ending goes from here.”
The Bluecoats were assessed a timing penalty that cost them four tenths of a point, but it did not affect the overall standings.
Santa Clara Vanguard finished in fifth place, just shy of 90 points, at 89.075.
Blue Knights (6th, 86.275) quickly jumped a point and a half from yesterday’s event in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and extended their lead on Phantom Regiment (7th, 84.175) to more than two points. Meanwhile, the Madison Scouts (8th, 83.475) continued to captivate audiences with their 2015 program "78th and Madison," bringing a high-energy twist to Gene Kelly and MGM classics.
Due to illness amongst members of the Cavaliers, the corps did not perform in Atlanta, instead moving ahead to its next tour stop in North Carolina.
The Boston Crusaders (9th, 81.775) and Blue Stars (10th, 81.100) have been back and forth in recent placements, but tonight the Crusaders held a 0.675-point lead over the Stars.
With strong performances tonight, Crossmen (11th, 80.775) and Colts (12th, 79.000) are both competing for a spot among the top 12 corps that advance to the DCI World Championship Finals in August. With their show, “And A Shot Rings Out,” the Colts captivated the audience with a play on radio dramas that follows a storyline of gangsters, love and a murder mystery.
"We have a lot of energy, and we love how unique our show is this year,” Colts drum major Kara Metzger said. “We’re still going to add some bigger moments to our show, and we’re always working on making each performance better.”
The Troopers finished in 13th (78.600) ahead of the Academy (14th, 77.750) with their show, “Wild Horses,” which features interpretations of the graceful equines of the American West.
Spirit of Atlanta
Spirit of Atlanta finished in 15th place with a score of 75.375. The corps gave a zealous performance for its hometown crowd with its 2015 production, “Out of the Ashes.”
“Our road always leads back to Georgia," Spirit drum major Jacqie Rotch said. “Right now, we’re shooting to inspire our fans and our audience, but the corps never stops striving for the hundred [points], and that’s what keeps us motivated.”
Oregon Crusaders finished in 16th (73.850), landing ahead of the Mandarins (17th, 73.775) for the third time in a row.
Pacific Crest's performance of "The Catalyst" scored 73.600 putting the corps from Southern California in 18th place. The corps’ 2015 production highlights speed and action through fast-paced marching and dark, regal musical selections.
“Everything that we’ve been working on the past weeks went really well today, and we really like the direction the show is taking,” Pacific Crest drum major Dakota Chavez said. “For us, everyday is about being better than we were the day before."
After Jersey Surf (20th, 68.275) slipped ahead of the Cascades (19th, 69.000) this past week in Huntsville, Alabama, the Seattle corps went back ahead in Atlanta, besting Surf by 0.725 points.
Pioneer finished in 21st place with a score of 64.500.
Three All-Age Class corps performances by Carolina Gold (1st, 71.500), Atlanta CV (2nd, 68.900) and Alliance (3rd, 63.400) kicked off the show in Atlanta. Two Open Class corps also followed.
From Mobile, Alabama, Southwind took first place with a score of 57.700 during the corps’ final competitive performance of its inaugural Open Class season.
“Being in such a big arena gave us so much hype going into the show,” Southwind drum major Rebecca Bercy said. “It’s so exciting to be a part of something new.”
Heat Wave took second place (53.400) with its show, “Cuban Fire.” Also making their debut this season, the Florida-based corps members made great progress during their first year in the Open Class.
“It feels amazing to be in the Georgia Dome,” Heat Wave drum major Jordon Pinchback said. “We’ve worked really hard all year, and every time we put our show on the field, the corps takes off. I’m very proud.”
DCI’s contingent of World Class corps will make their way northeast over the coming week. Converging in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Friday and Saturday for the DCI Eastern Classic, before heading back to the Midwest. It’s now less than two weeks before the DCI World Championships get underway in Indiana the first week of August.
Contributing: Tim Webber, Jessica Skogh