It was another nail-biting night of drum corps at the DCI Southwestern Championship presented by Fred J. Miller, Inc., as the Bluecoats came out on top of a field of 21 World Class corps.
Performing for a record-breaking crowd of 14,104 people, the Bluecoats’ resounding “BLOO” was heard loud and clear even before the official first-place announcement of 87.063 points. Saturday marked the first-ever Southwestern Championship win for the corps.
“It’s really fun to look at all that stuff,” Bluecoats drum major Samuel Crawford said, referring to close scores. “But you kind of live by the scores and die by the scores. The way they go one night you could be on top and feeling great, the next night you could be in third and feeling terrible. So if we let that determine the way that we work and if we let that determine our attitude toward rehearsing then we’re hindering ourselves from getting better.”
Carolina Crown continues to keep close tabs on its Canton, Ohio competitors while taking second place (86.787) and improving more than a point in total score from last night’s event in Houston.
For the Blue Devils, who up until Friday were undefeated, their third-place finish (86.350) has been unusual this season.
“The competition is definitely part of the sport and something that we really need to consider and just realize it’s something that we allow to push us [to get better],” Blue Devils drum major Niko Martinez said. “We are really worried more about our own performance and how much consistency we can build day by day.”
Santa Clara Vanguard (4th, 84.375) is keeping things interesting, dancing back and forth with the Cadets (5th, 83.438) over the course of the season.
Cadets drum major Kendall Stevenson commented that the close competition this summer improves the corps’ stamina.
“I actually think it makes it a little more exciting, keeps the audience a little bit more on their toes and us definitely on our toes because you never know what can happen night to night,” she said. “Cadets are known for working hard, so that’s what we’re going to do, keep working hard.”
The Cavaliers (6th, 83.188) finished two and a half tenths behind the Cadets, continuing to hold onto the possibility of getting ahead of the Allentown corps for the first time since 2011.
Two corps broke 80 points for the first time tonight with Phantom Regiment (7th, 80.537) continuing to pull ahead of the Blue Knights (8th, 80.000).
Phantom Regiment drum major David Warren said that the corps’ 60th anniversary has been a catalyst to the improvement of the corps since the beginning of the season.
“We’ve grown closer together as a drum corps. Therefore, our performance energy and emotion on the field is so much better with each other. That’s something really special that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Blue Stars gained 1.738 points since it’s last performance in Belton, Texas this Thursday, taking ninth place with a score of 79.438.
Straight from the city of San Antonio itself, the Crossmen thrived at its home show, taking 10th place over the Madison Scouts (11th, 77.075) with its highest score this season (77.338).
Crossmen drum major Caitlin Hall said that for her corps, returning to Texas is all about encouragement from the crowd: “Whenever we perform we’re not only performing for ourselves but also for the audience. So whenever they give us feedback that they like what we’re doing, of course it makes us feel better and we like to perform even more.”
With consistently high scores this season, the Academy (12th, 75.525) is on the right track to earn a spot among the top-12 corps at the DCI World Championship Finals for the first time in the corps’ young history.
As a milestone to that goal, Saturday marked the first time that the Arizona corps finished ahead of the Boston Crusaders (13th, 74.838), a perennial finalist. Academy drum major James Taylor says that he feels his corps is as prepared as they have ever been to make a statement this season. “I want to be undeniable. I would love it if we came in eighth or ninth.”
Troopers (14th, 73.513) fell behind Boston to a much greater margin than the five hundredths of a point the corps was behind in Belton earlier this week. This provided an opportunity for the Colts to further close the gap, coming in 15th with a score of72.113.
With a 16th place finish (70.875), Mandarins drum major Emalyn Atkins said that her corps is working this summer to capitalize on its strengths.
“Our goal is to max out the insane amount of talent we have this season,” she said. “I think we’ve come a long way just in the past few weeks. We made a ton of changes that have contributed to the overall story of our production. It’s helping people understand the show better.”
After edging Spirit of Atlanta (18th, 68.988) for the first time this summer Thursday in Belton, Oregon Crusaders (17th, 69.600) was able to hold onto that lead in San Antonio, besting the Georgia corps by more than half a point. Pacific Crest followed in 19th place with a score of 66.875.
The Seattle Cascades finished in 20th place (64.075) with its production “O” that is a nod to the corps’ 50th anniversary this summer. The show incorporates several large, golden circles as props.
Cascades drum major Maggie Whiteman further explained the show title: “It’s a visual concept versus the phrase. It can be O-H, it can be zero, it can be just circular. There’s a ton of different interpretations.”
Jersey Surf rounded out the lineup of World Class corps on Saturday with a score of 62.700 for 21st place.
In Open Class competition, Texas corps Genesis took first place with a score of 64.950, improving more than one and a half points since its last performance Thursday in Denton.
The Houston-based Guardians (2nd, 57.950), also went big in their home state, which played as a great advantage according to drum major Jordan Smith.
Both Guardians and Louisiana Stars (3rd, 57.900) will make their inaugural trips to the DCI World Championships later this summer in Michigan City and Indianapolis, Indiana. That means they’ll extend their summer tours well into the month of August for the first time in the corps’ histories.
“Usually around this time we’re ending our season and now we can take the time to let our show expand and grow,” Smith said. “I really look forward to seeing how the corps adapts this late in the season and where they grow from here.”
Contributing: Lauren Wilcox