Carolina Crown took first place with a score of 96.775 during the penultimate competition of the 2015 season.
"Tonight’s performance was exactly what we wanted and exactly what we needed,” Crown drum major Ross Werner said. “Overall it was the best production we could have given."
With a win the night before in Prelims, the South Carolina corps edged the Blue Devils for a 0.15-point lead.
"The last couple of days have been awesome,” Werner said. “We’re focusing on us, and we’re seeing everyone just come together and pushing themselves to be the best they can be. Perfect is what we’re trying to achieve.”
Close behind, the Blue Devils took second (96.625), rebounding from their fall to fourth place during the Prelims on Thursday. The corps took first in total visual and third in total music.
“It was an absolutely wonderful show,” drum major Alana Stevenson said. “There’s always a drive, but there’s an even bigger push as we go into tomorrow night. We’re going to keep striving until the end.”
Bluecoats (3rd, 95.775) skipped ahead of the Cadets (4th, 95.500). Despite the drop, the Cadets took first in brass and percussion and first in overall music. But with a fourth-place score in General Effect, the corps yielded nearly a full-point advantage to Crown. The corps’ energy and drive continue to stay persistent as the corps heads into the Finals competition.
“George (Hopkins, the Cadets director) usually gives the pep-talk before we step-off,” Cadets drum major Kendall Stevenson said. “He says to give it 100 percent, and that was the goal for tonight. Give it 100 percent, go full throttle, and leave nothing behind, because all we have is one more show.”
Santa Clara Vanguard (5th, 93.425) kept a strong lead over Blue Knights (6th, 91.150) by more than two points. The California corps took third in the percussion caption, dropping from first place in Prelims the night before.
“The whole corps was feeling a unified energy throughout the horn line, the drums and the guard tonight,” Santa Clara drum major Maycie Meyer said. “We all worked really well together, and when we can all get the same energy throughout all the sections in the corps, we always have a great performance.”
Phantom Regiment finished in 7th with a score of 89.775, and Madison Scouts (8th, 88.625) kept their hold over the Cavaliers (9th, 88.400) by 0.225 points.
"That was even more spectacular than last night," Madison Scouts drum major Eric Perry said. “We are going to be more focused tomorrow night than we ever have been.”
Boston Crusaders (10th, 86.300) held their position from the previous night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Blue Stars (11th, 85.275) and Crossmen (12th, 83.875) rounded out the top-12 corps, who qualified to compete in the World Championship Finals Saturday night.
“The show was fantastic, the best we’ve had all season,” first-year Crossmen drum major Aaron Thomas said. “I can’t even explain the emotions running through me right now. Performing in Finals will be such a great honor, and it’s almost an unbelievable thing to even think about.”
Troopers (13th, 83.800) kept their lead ahead of Colts (14th, 83.025), but it wasn’t enough to bump the corps into the top 12 for Finals.
"They left their hearts out there today," Troopers drum major Gabe Gallegos said.
The Colts added a surprise ending to their final performance, changing the conclusion to their radio drama-inspired storyline. Fifth-year corps member and Colts drum major Kara Metzger said it was “one of the best runs” they’ve had all year.
"The energy and precision that went in, it kind of locked into place tonight and everything felt good,” Metzger said. "Going on was harder than coming off, because now that I've had a good show and the corps had a good show I'm extremely happy and I can be satisfied, but of course I do want more, so it's a little bittersweet.”
Vanguard Cadets (16th, 79.350) finished behind the Academy (15th, 81.825), who improved their score overnight by nearly a point.
Oregon Crusaders (17th, 78.550) finished ahead of Spirit of Atlanta (18th, 78.125), while Blue Devils B (19th, 77.175) kept a 0.75-point lead over Mandarins (20th, 76.425).
2015 has been a learning season for members of Spirit of Atlanta, and although the corps’ season has come to an end, director JW Koester is proud of the progress his corps has made.
"Every day they came out and learned something new,” Koester said. “We had to do a lot of teaching, but we were able to shape them into what we wanted them to be. It was a great season.”
Pacific Crest (21st, 74.925), Genesis (22nd, 73.500), Spartans (23rd, 71.500) and Cascades (24th, 71.075) all completed their DCI seasons at the Semifinals, finishing in the same order as the night before.
Genesis members ended the season strong with their show, “Phantom Revisited.”
“The corps definitely added a little more heart and soul with this being our last show,” drum major John Filippone said. “We did a whole season for this night, and the growth in maturity has turned this into a whole different group of people.”
The Cascades also embraced their last show of the 2015 season.
“That was just a wicked-crazy run through for us,” Cascades drum major Maggie Whiteman said. “We’re super surprised that we even made it into Semifinals tonight, and this corps has just been phenomenal.”
Legends took 25th after competing in the Semifinals for the first time in its 10-year history, finishing with a score of 70.250.
The top-12 Semifinalist corps will return to the field on Saturday, August 8, the final day of the 2015 DCI Tour. Gates open at Lucas Oil Stadium at 3:30 p.m., and the first corps, Crossmen, will step off at 7 p.m.
Four hours later, a champion will be announced.
Contributing: Tim Webber