Under muggy Eastern conditions today at Marciano Stadium in Brockton, Mass., Lake Erie Regiment began the Division II & III Divisional Finals proceedings at 3 p.m. Lake Erie Regiment Lake Erie Regiment spent the last two days (since Division II & III prelims) cleaning. The result was a superior performance today. "Better than the other day, definitely," assessed Garrett Fausnaught, 17, a vibraphone player from Albion, Pa. Fausnaught, a second-year veteran, said that his pit line worked on "getting things lined up." Lake Erie Regiment plans to see Division I semifinals tomorrow in Foxboro, and will tour Boston that day as well. Dutch Boy As with Lake Erie Regiment, Dutch Boy turned in a better performance today than Tuesday, thanks do rehearsals that concentrated on focusing on the drum major, according to baritone player Andrew Davis. "More people were watching the drum major," Davis said. "(We accomplished this) by practicing over and over again. They told us to always focus on him." Davis, 17, of Kitchener, Ontario, a three-year Dutch Boy veteran, said the heat today did not affect Dutch Boy's performance, as they have been sweating through shows all summer. Pride of the Lions The summer for the Pride of the Lions has been "Very hectic and new and exciting," said drum major Robyn Murray, noting that until 2005 the group toured only as a marching band. "There's more discipline, and a lot more respect here," said Murray, a 17-year-old resident of Regina, Saskatchewan. "There was a lot of improvement – great impact points," Robyn said of the corps performance tonight compared to Tuesday. "Not so much joking around." Pride of the Lions will take a day off in Boston this week, participate and/or watch Division II & III Grand Finals, and take in Division I semifinals. Allegiance Elite After taking a year off (to march as the combined corps Fusion), Allegiance Elite's summer has been "Awesome," according to drum major Marla Merrills, 20, of Calgary, Alberta. "I couldn't have asked for a better year to have been drum major," Merrills said, adding that she was drum major in 2002 and 2003 as well. Merrills has been with the corps for six summers, an eternity in drum corps years. Last summer she traveled Europe with a friend. Over the years Merrills has seen many changes. "I've seen the corps get younger, I've seen people work a lot harder. I've marched with some of the staff now, so it's really, really awesome to get to work with them. It's nice to see them from what they were on the field and now they're just pushing the kids," Merrills said. This week, Merrills has worked on pride and concentration with her fellow corps members. "(I've worked on) Keeping them in focus. We've made it this far this year, and making it this far, why not be proud of that?" Capital Sound An emotional Erik Jaeckel, a timpani player, said that Capital Sound turned in the season's best performance tonight. "The emotion, execution and energy from the whole corps was phenomenal," Jaeckel said of the show tonight. "The best I've ever heard the corps sound – ever." The corps worked on energy and projection to the box this week – and, "Making everybody understand what our show's about. It was phenomenal – it was great. I wish everybody from my family was here tonight to see this," Jaeckel said. Jaeckel, 21, is a native of Waunakee, Wis. Revolution Matt Boehm, a rookie Revolution baritone player from Round Rock, Texas, said Revolution turned in an emotional performance tonight. He also said it was a personal triumph. "I did amazing. That was my best performance of the year," Boehm said. Boehm noted one aspect of the show that particularly shone tonight. "The emotion – right before we went out there, knowing that this is quite possibly our last performance, if we don't make it into grand finals. Our whole show is about emotions, and the emotion captured me today," Boehm said. Boehm also looked to the future of Revolution. "Our last movement is about hope. This is my first year doing DCI, and knowing that there are years to look forward to, and only to get better, this corps (made up of) mainly rookies, it made me cry out there," Boehm said. Yamato Yamato spent the week polishing its entire show -- "Everything," according to Nicholas Gregory, 18, a tenor drummer from Rancho Cuca Munga, Calif. "Cleaning up," Gregory continued. "That quad lick right now – during the drum solo – was probably the best we ever played it," Gregory said of the part of the show that was of particular note. He added that the corps was "Just going out here and trying hard, since it's finals. There was more energy," Gregory, a drummer at Etiwanda High School in California, said. This week Yamato will "Kick back, I guess, relax, and watch the Division I finals, according to Gregory. This summer has been "Really fun" for Yamato, Gregory added. Raiders When the Raiders lost a drum major this summer and decided to take the field conductorless, they relied on a friendly doctor to guide them through rehearsals -- Dr. Beat. To start a selection, the Raiders use the infamous rehearsal space electronics pacesetter, Dr. Beat. But then, the drum line takes over, and "We work to keep the tempo solid. The horn line listens back to us," according to Ryan Stitzel, 18, a tenor drummer from Fleetwood, Pa. The method has been working well for the corps. "The horns do a lot more listening back to the drums, because there's no other place to get their tempo, and we've been working really hard at keeping the tempos solid, and that there aren't any tears. It's been working very well so far. It took a lot of work, but we got there," Stitzel said. Tonight the Raiders "Did excellent – that was definitely one of the best shows we've done as a corps. This whole week, we've gone through some major changes and we pushed so hard," said "We've been working our tails off – the corps is an excellent bunch. I couldn't be happier with them." In addition to the loss of a drum major, the Raiders endured the losses of a bass drummer and a timpani player. "We got a new timpanist a week before we went on tour. We got a new guy that came in, he learned the show in a week, and all week we've been pushing," Stitzel said. Taipei Yuehfu Clarity was the key to success tonight for Taipei Yuehfu, according to Cynthia Chiang, 21, a snare drummer from Taipei City, Taiwan. In addition, "Everybody concentrated," Chiang said. The best part of Taipei Yuehfu's show is the percussion feature, according to Chiang. "There is a lot of technique we've had to learn and practice," Chiang said of why she prefers this segment. Memphis Sound "One Hot Night," the title of Memphis Sound's show, was a perfect description of the conditions in Brockton tonight. For Brian Payne, a Memphis Sound member from Greensboro, N.C., "One Hot Night" meant, "Wearing the suit and it being hot – you can see the sweat on me right now." The show tonight was "Amazing," according to Payne. "I put everything I had into it. For us in the front ensemble, since we don't see the other guys that much, performing it, putting everything we've got into it (was the highlight tonight)," Payne said. Payne, 20, is a member of the Memphis Sound front ensemble. This week Memphis Sound worked on the ballad section, "Making sure it's perfect, because the battery's not playing in it, and we're the only guys playing it, so we just beat into it a whole bunch," Payne said. Jersey Surf For the Jersey Surf's Jillian Burlingame, tonight's show brought about a wide variety of feelings. "It's a range of emotions. I'm aging out, but I have one last show. I just hope we throw it down. Tonight's show was satisfying for Burlingame, a 21-year-old mellophone player from Stow Creek, N.J. "It felt good from the field." This year has been different for the corps. "This year was a completely different spin, from the light uniforms to the light show, to the dark side. No more surfer shorts (2003's uniforms). We went over to the dark side – we wanted to show everybody that we can do drum corps too," Burlingame said. This week, the corps worked on "Everything from A to Z," Burlingame said. "Trying to boost up our scores, trying to boost up our audience, it's pretty much been an all-around week. We hit everything," Burlingame said. Oregon Crusaders "Never give up" has been the Oregon Crusaders' theme this week, according to Kyle Thompson, 19, a trumpet player from Everett, Wash. "OC's had a real tough season this year, coming through, bonding. We had a big turnaround from last year, but we also had just as many rookies this year. It was quite a struggle for us to bond together. "I think this week we finally achieved that. It's been really nice to have that feeling coming off the field tonight," Thompson said. This week the Oregon Crusaders worked intensively on a section of their closer called "The Meat Grinder." "The last 40 counts or so of our closer is called the 'meat grinder,' where everyone is hauling around the field in a tight diamond,. We've had hard troubles with that this season, with pathways and whatnot, but we spent a lot of time on it, and it cleaned up quite a bit tonight. Overall, the summer has been "Fantastic," Thompson said. Impulse If one member of Impulse is a lightning rod for positive crowd reaction this summer, it's lead trumpet player Kyle Spraker, 19, of Costa Mesa, Calif. "I'm the horn sergeant of the corps and section leader of the trumpets and I have a bunch of solos, I don't know why the audience likes me so much, just because I jump around a lot and have long hair," Spraker said. Tonight's performance was a good one for Spraker. "This has been the best show Impulse has had. I love the show, every bit of it. It's awesome, and it's unlike anything for us to have a show that's not only well designed but well performed by the whole corps." In closing Spraker looked to the past and future. "This is my fourth year, and it just keeps getting better every year. I have another two years (in drum corps), which I will be spending with Impulse." Teal Sound O'Fallon, Ill., native Nic Goodman stressed the work effort Teal Sound put into the show this week. This week has been fun yet productive for Teal Sound. "It's been a great week, lots of drive to get the show, waiting to get that excellent show out, waiting for the peak on Saturday," Goodman said. "We hit the drum solo especially hard this week, but we've been going over each part of the show, trying to get each part as great as we can get it. The drum solo is great, the end of the show is great, some great writing, some intense notes, fun to run around and play," Goodman said. This week Teal Sound will revisit its entire show. "We'll be touching up on some of the middle parts of the show. We're pretty paced to work on everything so we can peak on Saturday," Goodman said. Goodman summed up his corps summer thus far. "It's been a fun summer. We've been working very hard." Fever Tyler Buer of Modesto, Calif., a Fever trumpet player, said the corps enjoyed their performance tonight. "We had a good time out there, it was definitely energetic. We came back and we proved ourselves," Buer said. One portion of the show deserved particular acclaim tonight, Buer said. "The opener was really good. It was definitely as energetic as we'd been practicing, so that was good." This week Buer said the corps was "Just gonna keep plugging away, keeping the energy up, in practice, the field, wherever." Blue Stars She insists that they did it, adamantly. "I didn't do anything -- we did it as ensemble. So you can't ask me how I did." Ok, how did the ensemble do? "We did awesome. We left everything out on that field. I am walking with nothing right now," she says, catching her breath. This week, the Blue Stars worked on all of the "Weak spots in the show," she said. We worked on working together more as a team, and there's no individuals out on the field." "Our show out there? That was our life. I lived it for those 11 minutes," she says, pointing at the field with her trumpet. She is Kristy Garza, of Raymondville, Texas, a 21-year-old ageout trumpet player. Spartans Cassandra Dutile is ready for her last performance. The Bellerica, Mass, resident and Spartans front ensemble member is suffering from chronic wrist pain. The only reason she went on tour was for her corpsmates. "I just told the rest of my ensemble that I went on tour for them this year, because I was in so much pain. I've just pushed my wrists to their limits, and it's time for me to stop. This will be one of the last times that I'm going to be able to play. It's just that time," a tearful Dutile said. Although ending her drum corps career comes with a mixed bag of emotions, Dutile is ready for summer to be over. "Right at the moment, I'm really excited it's ending right now, because physically I can't play anymore," Dutile said. Despite the pain, she has really enjoyed herself on the road. "This summer's been a lot of real hard work, we're all being pushed to our limits and it's been a really great year." East Coast Jazz East Coast Jazz spent the week polishing its entire show, according to Chris Krahan a front ensemble member from Dartmouth, Mass. "We worked on the whole show this week. We just did a lot of performing stuff -- performing our music," Krahan said. Did the rehearsals pay off? Krahan thinks so. "I think we had a good performance. (I just had a good) feeling about it. I went out onto the field having this emotion knowing that I was going to do good tonight," Krahan said.
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