INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Peyton Grunzke and Everett Kim carry the same philosophy when it comes to drum corps scores. They don’t matter. They’re an afterthought, something in the background that has no bearing on the performance of their corps.
The Bluecoats and Blue Devils drum majors have been answering questions about scores for months now. Focused on bettering their corps and their corps only, they pair don’t offer a whole lot on the subject.
“It’s just something that’s there. Honestly with the scores and competition, you never really know which way it’s going to go,” Grunzke said.
Added Kim: “Like I say every time, the scores are a distraction. We judge ourselves by our own standard.”
Perhaps that’s a good thing. At this point, whatever the two corps have been doing to this point shouldn’t be questioned; it’s gotten them this far, to where they stand Friday night — in a dead heat for the 2019 World Championship title.
After Bluecoats bested Blue Devils by a tenth of a point Thursday, the Concord, California corps jumped its Canton, Ohio counterparts Friday at the DCI World Championship Semifinals pres. by Earasers & InEarz Audio, earning a .150-point lead into the final day of the season.
For now, however, the numbers are still on the backburner.
But if the curiosity became too much to handle — if they just had to know — the Blue Devils could peek at the results and take a grin to bed with them after a first-place finish in Friday night’s Semifinals.
“The last week of drum corps … it’s really just all about us and building that confidence and trusting each other,” Kim said. “That’s what it’s been about these last few days. We’re living in the moment.”
1. Blue Devils » 97.700
2. Bluecoats » 97.550
3. Santa Clara Vanguard » 96.325
4. Carolina Crown » 96.025
The Blue Devils boosted their score by .150 points from Thursday night, carrying a .150-point lead into the final night of the season. Friday was the Blue Devils’ fourth victory over the Bluecoats in 11 meetings this season.
“This corps is on fire right now. Every night is just incredible,” Kim said. “It’s just been a wild ride.”
In the Blue Devils’ three previous victories over Bluecoats in 2019, the margin has only once been larger than Friday night. Blue Devils secured a commanding victory in the visual caption, which allowed them to overcome Bluecoats’ head-to-head victories in both general effect and music caption.
“I think today we had a lot more energy than we did yesterday -- there’s definitely a lot more people so that helps,” Grunzke said. “I’m just trying to savor every moment we get to perform and rehearse this show.”
After reducing their deficit between Santa Clara Vanguard to just three-tenths of a point Thursday, Carolina Crown stayed with the Northern California corps again Friday night, keeping the margin at 0.3.
Crown secured an outright victory in the music caption, posting overall wins in two of the three music subcaptions.
“They know that their time with all these people is limited. They are very good at knowing that and taking advantage of it,” Carolina Crown drum major Michael St. Ores said. “Everybody is feeling really good about tonight’s show.”
Vanguard finished third in all three major captions, while earning a victory in the percussion subcaption. Heading into the last night of the season, Vanguard is in line to grab a medal for the third straight season, sitting 1.225 points outside of second place.
“Something about last night just completely set us over the edge,” Santa Clara Vanguard drum major Andrew Arbouzov said. “Just starting with warm up, I heard them play their first note and I was like, ‘Wow, something about this is different.’ And it has shown ever since.”
5. The Cavaliers » 95.213
6. Boston Crusaders » 93.413
After a razor-thin .025-point head-to-head victory over the Boston Crusaders, The Cavaliers extended their lead over the Boston corps to 1.8 points, a significant change aided by a one-point penalty incurred by the Crusaders.
In their 12 head-to-head meetings this season before Semis, Boston came out on top in the first seven. Since then, The Cavaliers have now been victorious in each of the last six, never winning by more than they did Friday.
Boston, though, picked up a fourth-place finish in the visual caption, headlined by a win in color guard.
“I really think last night’s performance made people love the show, performing it especially,” Boston drum major Josh Ballinger said. “People were so excited to get back to rehearsal for the brief amount of time we had and come back here today.”
7. Blue Knights » 92.635
8. Blue Stars » 91.300
9. The Cadets » 89.800
10. Mandarins » 89.438
Backed by strong numbers in both general effect and music, the Blue Knights opened up their biggest lead over the Blue Stars this season, nearing doubling what it was in Thursday’s Prelims. The two season-long close competitors tied in the visual caption.
The Mandarins improved their Prelims score by more than half a point, toppling their previous all-time best record. A day before their Finals performance, the Mandarins sit just over half a point away from what would be their first time ever breaking 90 points.
The Cadets, however, kept their ninth-place position intact thanks to another strong night in music. The Allentown corps earned another top-six finish in percussion.
“We’ve made an incredible push these last two weeks,” Cadets drum major Loren Gregory said. “Maybe our placement yesterday wasn’t what we were hoping, but I think we had a very solid run and felt very confident. We kind of shocked some people saying, ‘We’re still here. We’re still fighting.’”
11. Crossmen » 88.225
12. Phantom Regiment » 87.775
Just a day after trailing Phantom Regiment by .212 points for the No. 11 spot, Crossmen overtook the Rockford, Illinois corps Friday night by half a point.
With one show left in 2019, both corps have already topped their scores from last season. But thanks to an impressive score in the visual caption, Crossmen broke a two-show head-to-head losing streak to Phantom Regiment, which nabbed the final spot in Finals.
“Ultimately scores are what get you into Finals, but what we were really focused on tonight was making sure we came out, we did our job, and we threw down the best show that we had,” Crossmen drum major Lydia Marshall said. “This season is something special to say the least.”
13. Spirit of Atlanta » 85.588
14. Pacific Crest » 85.350
15. The Academy » 84.300
16. Colts » 84.225
Amongst the World Class corps, no one has shown more improvement on the scoreboard than Pacific Crest. After placing 21st in 2017 and 20th last year, the Southern California corps vaulted itself into 14th, marking the corps’ best finish ever by two spots.
Pacific Crest overcame a head-to-head visual loss to The Academy and Colts with wins over each in both general effect and music.
“It’s beyond words,” Pacific Crest drum major Amber Cameron said. “We went from being the 20th drum corps to the 14th in one season and words can’t even justify how hard we worked to get there.”
All season long, the positioning battle between The Academy and Colts has been tight. In 10 head-to-head meetings prior to Friday, the corps had been separated by a point or fewer seven times.
Colts raced out to six straight wins out of the gate, but The Academy found its second wind in mid-July and hasn’t held a deficit to the Dubuque, Iowa corps since, largely because of close leads in general effect and visual.
“I can’t even describe that performance, It was everything I could have hoped for,” Academy drum major Sierra Rogers said. “It’s meant everything. It’s been where I’ve found my family, where I’ve found my home.”
For the second time in as many years, Spirit of Atlanta finished just a place outside of the Top 12 DCI World Championship Finals cutline. After missing out last season by 1.250 points, the corps again just missed out on the chance to perform on Saturday, but still matched what is its best placement in the last six years.
“I couldn’t imagine anything better than just being here with everyone on this field,” Spirit of Atlanta drum major Bailey Burks said. “I am very, very pleased with what we accomplished. We came out just wanting to have fun, not even caring what the results would be. It’s been a really great summer no matter what.”
17. Madison Scouts » 82.138
18. Troopers » 81.663
19. Spartans » 80.350
The Open Class gold medalist, Spartans, capped off what will undoubtedly go down as the best finish in the corps’ history to date. A year after sneaking into Semifinals at 25th, the Nashua, New Hampshire corps left no doubts this year, boosting its season-ending score by almost six points en route to a 19th-place finish.
Troopers, which finished in 18th for the second straight year, improved their Semifinals score from 2018 by over three-tenths of a point.
“We threw down and I can’t wait to start that fire up again next year,” Troopers drum major Savannah Light said. “It’s one of the greatest feelings ever. I wish we had another night, but I’m glad with the way tonight ended. There was so much passion.”
Troopers bested Madison Scouts in visual but the Madison, Wisconsin corps jumped ahead thanks to impressive numbers in both general effect and music captions.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” Madison Scouts drum major Nathan Czech said. “The members have grown so much, we’ve all grown together as a community. And on the field, they have come such a long way, I could not be more proud of my brothers.”
20. Genesis » 78.725
21. Legends » 78.400
22. Gold » 77.100
Open Class representatives Legends and Gold both completed their best seasons in corps history Friday night.
Legends, the Open Class silver medalist, jumped five spots and four points from last season. Gold, the back-to-back Open Class bronze medalist, moved up one spot and vaulted their score by almost a point and a half.
Marking the corps’ 10th-anniversary season this summer, Genesis also made significant improvement from 2018. After a 24th-place finish last season, the Austin, Texas corps added more than three points to crack the Top 20.
“We’ve gone from an Open Class corps in 2015 and 2016, moved into the World Class, and we just keep moving every year,” Genesis drum major Cameron Wilson said. “I feel nothing but pride. Our growth over the past 10 years, this is our statement. This is Genesis’ phoenix rising from the ashes.”
23. Music City » 76.650
24. Jersey Surf » 75.900
25. Seattle Cascades » 73.275
Music City, Jersey Surf and the Seattle Cascades rounded out the Semifinals field on Friday night. The drum majors for all three stepped off the Lucas Oil Stadium field understanding they had just completed the final run of the season, basking in the accomplishment of their 2019 campaigns.
“It’s very exciting for us to have our last run and we get to just have fun with it,” Music City drum major Patrick Nelson said. “I was pretty happy with our performance. We had so much energy, especially at the end. The corps gave a lot to the audience and the audience seemed to really enjoy it.”
After a 30th-place finish last season, Jersey Surf catapulted six spots to earn its first Semifinals appearance since 2014, adding almost six points from their Prelims performance last season.
“It was really special. Anything can happen. Everyone is so happy and so proud of themselves, and they have the right to be — we haven’t done this is forever,” Jersey Surf drum major Dante Salina said. “It’s a dream come true.”
The Seattle Cascades made their way into the Semifinals by just a tenth of a point. After finishing 27th last season, the Cascades added more than a point to secure their first Semifinals appearance since 2016.
“These are the kind of performances that rarely come around. We could just have fun and enjoy the show, and we enjoyed that one” Cascades drum major Joey Massey said. “I was blown away by yesterday’s run, that would have been a perfect season-ender. And then today took it to a new level.”