History was made in front of more than 17,000 fans at the Georgia Dome Saturday night as the Bluecoats won its very first title at the DCI Southeastern Championship presented by Lone Star Percussion.
In doing so, the Bluecoats (1st, 91.713) joins the Cavaliers, Blue Devils and Carolina Crown as the only corps to win at the Georgia Dome in the 11 years the DCI Tour has marched through the stadium. However, this march will be the last through the 24-year-old dome with a new state-of-the-art facility set to open next door in 2017.
Bluecoats Drum Major Graham Hopkins says what motivates the corps most is focusing on self improvement.
“Continuing to look at that self critique mode and just being aware of what you can do better for yourself more than what’s better for everyone around you,” Hopkins said.
The Blue Devils (2nd, 91.488) increased its score by more than a point from the corps’ performance in Nashville the evening before, taking first place in overall Visual and second in overall General Effect on the judges’ sheets in Atlanta.
“I think we really soaked up the crowd and performed really well as an ensemble tonight,” Blue Devils drum major Niko Martinez said.
Following the two corps that passed 90 points in Nashville Friday night, Carolina Crown (3rd, 90.875) is the third corps to hit that milestone this summer.
“We try not to focus so much on the scores and competition, more so we try to focus on ourselves and if we can beat ourselves every night,” Carolina Crown drum major Emily Salgado said. “We try to go from one show to another show and keep getting better and better, always striving for that perfect 100 on Finals night. That’s the goal all season.”
Santa Clara Vanguard placed 4th with a final score of 89.325, just shy of breaking 90 points, while the Cadets (5th, 88.050) continues to hold a lead on the Cavaliers (6th, 87.625).
Though competition is tight, Cavaliers executive director Chris Lugo says that the corps’ focus isn’t just on closing the gap on the corps ahead.
“This is all about offense, there is not defense in this game," Lugo said. "We have to make sure that we are on fire and then the chips will fall where they may.”
Phantom Regiment (9th, 84.050), Blue Stars (8th, 84.850) and Blue Knights (7th, 84.938) maintain their top-10 status all less than one point from one another.
The Crossmen (10th, 82.250) and Madison Scouts (11th, 81.500) matched their placements from last Saturday in San Antonio. Crossmen has held a lead three out of the four times the two corps have faced each other this summer.
Just over a tenth of a point behind, the Academy (12th, 81.413) put up its highest score of the season and once again proved after taking 12th place at last Saturday’s regional event in San Antonio that it has the potential to be a finalist corps in Indianapolis.
For the first time this season the Troopers (13th, 78.925) passed the Boston Crusaders (14th, 78.475). On the bubble for a potential finalist berth at the DCI World Championship in Indianapolis, Troopers drum major Gabe Gallegos realizes how important every performance in the last weeks of this summer season can be.
“This show was very important because it is one of the last chances we get to perform in a dome before Championships Week,” Gallegos said. “Anytime the members can go out and perform like they did today the crowd is going to eat it up no matter what.”
Colts (15th, 76.775) remain on top of the Mandarins (16th, 75.850) by a small margin of less than a point.
Spirit of Atlanta
Spirit of Atlanta (17th, 74.325), flourished in front of its hometown crowd. Drum major Josiah Marinos says the performance left him emotional.
“Walking into it you kind of feel cocky because it’s your home,” Marinos said. “It is the most amazing feeling when you walk into your home stadium and everybody in those stands starts screaming their everything off, throwing babies and doing everything they can (for you). It’s amazing.”
Oregon Crusaders finished in 18th place with a score of 73.900 followed by Pacific Crest (19th, 71.800).
For Pacific Crest drum major Bryan Martinez, the Atlanta event is always a highlight of his season.
“Personally this is one of my favorite shows. I’ve had a lot of great memories here,” Martinez said. “This year’s ballad reminds me of our ballad two years ago and all the feelings I had during that performance brought back so many emotions.”
Seattle Cascades (20th, 70.350), Jersey Surf (21st, 68.550), and Pioneer (22nd, 64.950) rounded out the World Class competition on Saturday.
Members of the Mobile, Alabama Open Class corps Southwind (1st, 61.725) and Florida-based Heat Wave (2nd, 52.300) both took the field for the last time this season.
Southwind drum major Rebecca Percy said the size of the stadium and number of fans in attendance allowed the corps members to feed off that excitement in their performance.
”It’s our last competitive show so there was a lot of energy on the field and a lot of high spirits,” Percy said. “We are just so happy to make it this far and to be doing so well.”
Three All-Age Class corps including Carolina Gold (3rd, 54.950), Alliance (2nd, 56.250) and Atlanta CV (1st, 64.200) also performed in Atlanta on Saturday.
The final push to the DCI World Championships is on as World Class corps hit the road from Atlanta on their way to Allentown, Pennsylvania for two days of competition on Friday, August 5 and Saturday, August 6.
Contributing: Andrea Neff