Competition was fierce during the DCI Open Class World Championship Prelims on Monday in Michigan City, Indiana. Narrowed from a field of 16, 12 corps will advance to the Finals competition on Tuesday evening.
Blue Devils B (1st, 79.363) claimed the top spot over the defending champion Vanguard Cadets at Ames Field, keeping the long-standing competition between the two California rivals tight.
“We are really satisfied with the performance tonight,” Blue Devils B director Rick Odello said. “The corps really did a great job of putting all the elements together. We had a big crowd here tonight, and we’re really happy with it.”
With the Vanguard Cadets (2nd, 78.825) just over a half a point behind the Devils, the outcome of Tuesday’s Finals competition could be up for grabs.
“From the beginning we’ve had injuries, we’ve lost members, we’ve had all these setbacks, but we definitely pushed ahead and overcame them,” Vanguard Cadets drum major Joselyn Grace said. “The amazing staff we have and the wonderful people around us who inspire and push us to be better definitely helped, because Santa Clara definitely showed up tonight and I’m really proud of them.”
Members of Legends (3rd, 76.150) achieved their best placement ever at the Open Class World Championship Prelims, two spots better than their fifth-place finish at last year’s event.
Legends drum major Noah Koch was emotional when describing the progress his corps has made this season: “They brought everything to the field tonight—They put their hearts into it, they put their brains into it. It was an incredible culmination of a season’s worth of work. Just seeing the members grow as people and as performers, it was really special.”
Genesis’ (4th, 75.600) scores have surged in the past week, helping the Austin corps to hold a lead over the Spartans (5th, 74.713), while Music City (6th, 73.450) finished more than a point ahead of 7th Regiment (7th, 72.075).
The design of Gold’s (8th, 69.513) production “Dia de los Muertos” borrows from the established Mexican rituals of families gathering to honor their dead at cemeteries, at home, and through festivals and parades.
Gold assistant director Sean Cunningham said, “This is one of the best performances I’ve seen, if not the best. We have a very small brass section, but they play better and bigger this year than last even with that smaller number. That first horn push is a doozy—It hits you right in the face.”
In the corps' first-ever appearance at the Open Class World Championship, Louisiana Stars’ (9th, 67.775) drum major Tara Baker shared how much it meant to her to perform as a member of the corps for all three of its active years.
“It was kind of like a dream come true because we finally got to perform at the Championships,” she said. “It’s been really exciting ... I almost don’t even have words. I never thought in 2014 that we’d be here already doing this.”
Raiders (10th, 66.688) and Guardians (11th, 66.350) kept the scores close in the first time these two corps have faced each other this summer. Like Louisiana Stars, 2016 marks Guardians’ first trip to Michigan City for the Open Class Championship.
Second-year corps River City Rhythm from Anoka, Minnesota finished in 12th place with a score of 65.700, rounding out the lineup of corps that will advance to Tuesday's Finals.
“I think that even though this is only our second season as a drum corps, the progress that we’re making now is setting up to make the next few years of the corps really, really special,” River City Rhythm drum major Michael St. Ores said. “I think we’re really making a statement about what River City Rhythm is about, what our members believe in and really what we are capable of.”
In its inaugural season, Shadow narrowly missed the cutoff for the top-12 advancing corps. The Wisconsin group, whose members are all under the age of 19, finished in 13th place with a score of 64.175.
“The energy was very high coming from the entire field from the front ensemble all the way across the field,” Shadow director Nick Lane said. “I was able to key in with the drum majors’ hands and see that they were staying right with it. It was a very precise and powerful performance from everyone.”
Impulse (14th, 61.575) was last seen at the Open Class Championships in 2008, and its return to the field was something member Svetlana Hallman said was an incredible experience.
“I don’t remember anything because it was that amazing,” Hallman said just outside the stadium after her performance. “I feel like that was my best performance out of the entire season and I have no memory of it ... all I know is that it was amazing.”
Though the Colt Cadets (15th, 61.550) also fell short of advancing to the Finals competition, the corps was pleased with its performance.
“These kids haven’t seen a crowd that big, and I think that was one of the biggest motivational pushes for us tonight,” Colt Cadets drum major Adam Goninen said. “This performance definitely felt and meant a lot more to the [members] as we push them to realize this is one of our few and last performances together as a full group, and really bringing that emotional push toward the show itself.”
Les Stentors, hailing all the way from Sherbrooke, Quebec, finished in 16th place (55.325) with its production “Enigma.”
“Sometimes the energy is definitely there, but the control is not, and today I think it went really well,” Les Stentors drum major Roxane Savourin. “The feedback I got from the crowd was great.”
The season isn't over for any of these Open Class corps. Though only 12 corps will adavnce to Tuesday's Open Class Finals in Michigan City, all 16 corps will head to Indianapolis to compete against their World Class counterparts during the DCI World Championship Prelims at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday, August 11.
View a day-by-day schedule of 2016 DCI World Championship events.
Contributing: Christina Mavroudis, Lauren Wilcox