The Cavaliers cleaved their way into a first place spot Friday during the first night of the DCI Eastern Classic in Allentown, Pa., besting the Blue Devils by a quarter of a point to end the California corps' undefeated streak.
It was the highlight of an evening of upsets, as the appreciative crowd at J. Birney Crum stadium showed their support for every corps on the field, from the Green Machine to Beatrix, visiting contender from the Netherlands.
With top finishes in General Effect and an overall win in the Music captions, the Cavaliers scored 95.900, good for the gold medal and the first time they've bested the Blue Devils this season.
The two corps first clashed in Denver at Drums Along the Rockies, and since then the Cavaliers had been nipping at the heels of the defending World Champions. In Atlanta last weekend, the Cavaliers narrowed the Devils' lead to three quarters of a point.
The Cavaliers remained modest about their success tonight. Drum major Kevin Gates said, "We're just doing the same thing we do every day, and that's trying to be better than the day before. It's just taking care of business and doing what we need to do day in and day out. We can't control much else. We want to strive to have the best show that the Cavaliers can have. Really we're just about performing with each other and having fun doing it."
What are the top priorities of the Cavaliers as they head into World Championship week? Not what you might think. Gates said the concerns for the corps are, "Sleep. Making sure we don't have any regrets and making sure we do everything full-out all the time."
With Phantom Regiment and Carolina Crown competing tomorrow night, the Cavaliers will have to make the most of their floor time as the fight for medalist positions remains intense.
The Blue Devils (2nd, 95.650) still controlled one section of the judging sheets tonight—the Visual sub-captions. A slight deficit of a tenth of a point to the Cavaliers in Visual Performance was made up for by a combined seven tenths advantage in Visual Ensemble and Color Guard.
Both former champions were ahead of the third place Bluecoats (90.800) by nearly five points, though the corps from Canton did tie the Blue Devils in percussion, taking top marks from the Percussion 1 judge.
Tonight's results had more surprises in store; with the Glassmen (86.650) making a move and leaping into fourth place ahead of the Boston Crusaders (5th, 86.350). Boston, who drove the audience to its feet when the closing strains of "Conquest" sounded the end of their performance, moved ahead of the Blue Knights (6th, 86.200). This was the latest placement swap between the Crusaders and the Knights, who have remained closely competitive for the duration of the season.
Madison Scouts (7th, 84.425), Troopers (8th, 80.075), the Academy (9th, 78.025) and Mandarins (10th, 77.600) rounded out the World Class corps in tonight's competition.
The Jersey Surf
In the Open Class, the Jersey Surf swept the board, taking the gold medal with a score of 85.875, ahead of silver medalist Beatrix (77.700).
The Surf is strong this season, a contender for the first-ever Open Class title. Corps operations director Brian Prato said, "It's been a great season for us. Our membership is larger than it ever has been, our average age has gone up from the low 17s last year to about 18.2 this year. We're in our last two-week tour of the season, and we're looking forward to finishing strong."
The second night of the DCI Eastern Classic on Saturday evening will include a lineup that promises to be equally exciting for fans from top to bottom. Phantom Regiment, Carolina Crown and the Cadets will headline at J. Birney Crum, while the Blue Stars see if they can't gain on the Santa Clara Vanguard.
Spirit, the Crossmen, and the Colts will likely duke it out for placement, while crowd pleasing performances by Pacific Crest, Pioneer and the all-age exhibition Bridgemen Alumni Corps will make Saturday another excellent night of drum corps as the summer winds to a close.