By Jason Black
The Thunder in the Desert looked as if it were going to be a lot of "thunder in the desert" after a gray and overcast day. But the rain stopped and the skies cleared. The corps began warming up off in the distance and the show was set to kick off just a
few minutes late. A huge crowd had come out tonight to Grande Communications Stadium in spite of looming bad weather and ultimately were amazed with a great night of drum corps.

The finale last night in Midland, Texas
Revolution (68.60) received the gold medal for Division II. After the last couple of years spent in Division III, the corps looked to be heading in the right direction. Brandon Bridges, a first-year drum major for Revolution, commented on how he and the rest of the corps felt about the leap to Division II: "It's something definitely new and exciting, and it has brought a whole new set of challenges to us all." Troopers (68.60) were the first Division I corps to perform tonight. They definitely came out with a lot of excitement tonight. While talking about the show with Dieter Wiselogel, a first-year baritone player, he talked with me about their opener. He said that the corps has been working extremely hard on their opener and are gradually getting more and more work done on the ballad and closer. Dieter also let me know to watch out for the Troopers, as he says, "We're bringing back some old school." Generally it is hoped that with time, endurance, balance, and control will
develop to the level seen in the opener. Many changes are in the making, according to
Dieter, and he says that the talk around the corps is that we will all be surprised and very pleased to see the final result. Blue Knights (79.80) received the silver medal and were surprisingly good right from their first note. Mike Danner, a second-year mellophone player, commented on how the entire corps feels great this year and that the corps feels really close to one another in comparison to last year. Danner also says that the inter-corps' relationships not only are very strong this year within the members, but between staff members and corps members as well. In spite of some holes and interval issues, the corps played very well with great power and balance. They were overall very exciting. Seattle Cascades (76.85) overall had a decent performance. Unfortunately, there was no one to interview after the show in the parking lot. Seattle was absent from retreat and was pulling out of the parking lot before most corps had their uniforms off. In terms of the show, the corps is sounding "strong" at the midseason point. Possibly, extra rehearsal time due to early departures will pay off in the long run. Magic of Orlando (79.15) came in a close fourth place tonight. Ryan Robinson, a second-year contra player, commented on the stress levels that seem to be rising within the corps. After adding a new ending to their closer just last week, losing a food truck, dealing with numerous injuries, and rumors upon rumors of cutting out of tour early, high stress levels are certainly understandable. According to the general consensus of the corps, morale is not down due to just lack of a food truck, hard drill, and a couple of injuries. One can only hope that the members can find it within themselves to continue on and realize the potential this season has in store for them. In spite of so many problems, on the field Magic is looking very strong. The level of achievement Magic is reaching at the midseason point is impressive considering the high physical demands placed on the members, especially in comparison to last season. Spirit from "JSU" (79.30) received the bronze medal this evening. Also, receiving the "FIRST" standing ovation of the evening, Spirit certainly appeared to be a crowd favorite. From the first note to the very last, Spirit was able to entertain the crowd as well as give them all goosebumps by remembering "Greats" of the past. One can only wonder where the Jim Ott flag was and if it will possibly appear later in the season ... let's hope so. Phantom Regiment (88.50) received the gold medal. Phantom's new uniforms made a great impression with the crowd and according to Brad Hart, a first-year pit member, the corps loves the uniforms too. Brad and the corps love the uniforms because they "feel bigger." And in spite of rising scores and being the talk of the season, the corps still remains focused on the goal at hand;
to improve every night.