Bluecoats posted the highest score in the corps’ history Thursday night, topping a field of 37 other corps during the DCI World Championship Prelims presented by Earasers Musicians Earplugs in Indianapolis.
Taking first place with a score of 97.225, the Canton, Ohio corps pushed past its previous scoring record set with 2014’s “Tilt” production by five hundredths of a point.
Bluecoats executive director David Glasgow thinks the corps can do even better as it advances into Friday’s Semifinals competition.
“I thought it felt really strong for a Thursday performance for Finals Week,” Glasgow said. “There were some little flukey things that I think will get corrected without even thinking about it tomorrow, but I thought the meat and the bones of the show were just outstanding.”
Blue Devils finished in second, 0.625 points behind the Bluecoats with a score of 96.600, nearly the largest gap between the two corps this season. The highlight on the scoresheets for the California corps was a first-place finish in the visual caption.
Blue Devils executive director David Gibbs told his corps: “Just get stronger. Have confidence. Believe in yourselves. They’re all awesome performers and right now their job is to be connected and trust each other and get strong, get prepared and enjoy the ride.”
Though finishing in third place overall, Carolina Crown (96.263) was second in the visual caption over the Bluecoats and second in music over the Blue Devils.
Santa Clara Vanguard (4th, 94.300), the Cadets (5th, 93.475), and the Cavaliers (6th, 93.213) rounded out the top six.
Flip-flopping positions in recent events, Blue Knights (7th, 90.925), Phantom Regiment (8th, 90.600) and Blue Stars (9th, 89.975) finished in a tight pack, all divided by less than a point.
“Tonight was electric,” Blue Knights drum major Sarah Jones said. “It was a little bit unexpected because we left our plume box at the school, so our tubas and drums didn’t have shakos on, and a few horn line members. But what’s remarkable about this group is that we take what’s thrown at us, whether it’s a show that doesn’t have a clear definition or it’s forgetting your plumes ... We just take it and we own it.”
Members of Crossmen placed 10th with a score of 87.875 as they work to lock in a finalist position for the third straight year. Given their hard work and dedication, staff coordinator Molly Favret is pleased with where her corps is at.
“It has been a long process, as it always is, but the product that they’re [putting out] now is everything we expected it to be since the beginning, so it was a very beautiful production to just enjoy and watch,” she said.
The Academy (11th, 87.150) kept itself in the hunt for its first-ever finalist berth, posting a 1.462-point lead over the Madison Scouts (12th, 85.688), the largest that gap has been this summer. They were followed by Boston Crusaders in 13th place with a score of 84.900.
Troopers’ (14th, 83.438) drum major Gabe Gallegos said his corps went the extra mile tonight: “Beyond expectations. They came from day one with a fight and a fire in their eyes, and we still have a couple of days where that fire is going to be there.”
This year’s Open Class Champion Blue Devils B (82.650) pulled off a 15th-place finish when thrown into the mix of World Class corps, skirting by the Colts (16th, 82.575) by less than a tenth of a point.
Following in the footsteps of the Bluecoats tonight, Mandarins finished in 17th place with a score of 81.000, marking the highest score in its history of competition as a World Class ensemble. It’s been 13 years since the Sacramento corps has scored above 80 points, the last time in 2003 during its inaugural World Class season.
Oregon Crusaders took 18th place with a score of 79.900, while Pacific Crest (19th, 78.775) finished above Spirit of Atlanta (21st, 77.500) for just the second time this season. In between those two corps were members of the Vanguard Cadets (20th, 78.688) who will advance to Friday’s Semifinals for the sixth straight year.
Seattle Cascades finished in 22nd (76.388), two places better than its Prelims finish in 2015. Drum major Maggie Whiteman said a single word describes the corps during its 50th-anniversary season.
“Re-energized,” she said. “That’s the first word that I think of. 2015 was a year of gathering, coming together, and 2016 has been about getting the hammer and the nail and just freakin’ driving it.”
Legends (23rd, 75.975), Genesis (24th, 73.300) and Spartans (25th, 73.125) led the next pack of Open Class corps that will all move on on to the Semifinals, pushing Jersey Surf (26th, 71.988) and Music City (27th, 71.725) below the top-25 cutoff.
Genesis drum major Lupita Lerma anticipates that the impactful moments in this preliminary performance set her corps up perfectly for Semifinals: “When the [music] rang out you could just hear the resonance [and] the echo. I was just all of a sudden like, ‘Yes, this is what we came here for, and this is where we belong.’”
In the second block of the day, 7th Regiment (28th, 68.412), Pioneer (29th, 68.375), Gold (30th, 67.638), and Louisiana Stars (31st, 66.675) also put a cap on their 2016 seasons.
Emotional as they came off the field, many Pioneer members were in tears as they celebrated the end of another year.
“This is the hardest working [group of corps members] that we have ever had,” drum major Alisha Cardwell said. “We’ve pushed through so many limits, we’ve pushed through a lot of obstacles and changes, and in the end we are all incredibly proud of what we’ve done.”
In the only placement swap among Open Class corps between Tuesday’s Open Class Finals and the Indianapolis Prelims, Guardians (32nd, 64.988) catapulted ahead of the Raiders (33rd, 64.850) by a slim margin. Raiders had previously held a more than two point lead on the Houston corps.
“This is the first time we’ve ever gotten to where we are right now,” Guardians corps director Jonathan Doerr said. “Our tours are usually two or three shows—We never get to the point to where the kids are really taking ownership of the show ... It was a fantastic run.”
River City Rhythm (34th, 63.525), Shadow (35th, 61.300), Impulse (36th, 60.063), Colt Cadets (37th, 57.650), and Les Stentors (38th, 53.300) made up the first block of competition in the morning, setting the tone for a long, intense lineup of drum corps.
Colt Cadets member Halie Hugenberg said that even though the season is over for her corps, they finished on a very positive note.
“We’re a very strong organization,” she said. “I think when we started out we were all pretty nervous and we weren’t sure where we were going because there are a lot of new members—a lot of the old members went to the Colts—but this year I think we pulled through ... Our last show was the best one yet.”
But for now, the attention of Indianapolis and the drum corps community is focused solely on the upcoming events of the 2016 World Championships.
The 25 advancing corps from Thursday will participate in the World Championship Semifinals on Friday. Gates open at 12:30 p.m. and the first corps, Spartans, will step off at 2 p.m.
Can't make it to the event in Indianapolis? Watch the DCI World Championship Semifinals webcast on DCI Live!
Contributing: Christina Mavroudis, Lauren Wilcox