Three days into the 2009 Drum Corps International World Championships, a familiar face will finally return to the coveted top 12 of drum corps elite. After a 23 year absence from those ranks, the Troopers of Casper, Wyo. overtook the Colts (13th, 85.60) by a slim margin of .30 points taking 12th place in the Semifinals competition with a score of 85.90. Troopers Drum Major Corey Moore said before the corps' momentous score was announced, "If we do get into Finals tomorrow night, everybody is going to be proud. The alumni are going to be so proud. We just all came together as a family more this year and we all wanted it together enough to get us to where we are now." Moore said Friday evening's show was, "all about emotion. We gave it to the crowd and the crowd gave it back to us. It was an unbelievable feeling."
Blue Stars fans will remember last year's World Championships when the corps broke back into the top 12 after nearly 30 years. The Blue Stars utilized their popular 2008 show, "Le Tour," as a vehicle to the corps upward in rankings. The corps has experienced a similar pattern of success during the 2009 season, returning to the Finals competition again. They took ninth place at the Semifinals with a score of 90.4. "After we got over the awkwardness of not knowing if our Semifinals performance was our last or not, hearing the announcement that we were going to the Finals was a good feeling," said Blue Stars euphonium player Briana Engelbert about the corps' 2008 season. "And now this year, to keep going on is just amazing," she said. "I don't even have to think about not making Finals, just about having the best performance I can." At the apex of the World Class competitive heap, the top three corps still held their ground keeping their respective positions. The Blue Devils glided into first place with a 98.4 while second ranked Carolina Crown clenched onto their current silver medal status with a 97.55. The Holy Name Cadets will enter Saturday's Finals competition in third place overall with a 97.20.
Cavaliers color guard member Brian Olson said he was pleased with the corps' Semifinals performance, which earned fourth place with a score of 96.05. "Everyone had incredible energy. We just went out there with the mentality that we had to fight for it. Tonight's got to be the night and tomorrow we have to fight for it even more. It's been a progression all summer, step-by-step, show-by-show. Tonight was just full of energy and everyone was having a blast." Going into the Finals will be an emotional journey for Olson and many other 2009 drum corps "age-outs." After the countless challenges overcome, friends made and stunning shows performed, drum corps members will have much to miss from their summertime adventure. "It's a little sad, leaving the Cavaliers after four summers. It's been a blast being here, it's been a crazy road. Right now it's time to fight for that show tomorrow and after that it's time to celebrate and enjoy the time I have left with my brothers in the Cavaliers," Olson said. Santa Clara Vanguard (5th, 95.90) and Bluecoats (6th, 93.55) remained locked in the same relative positions, while the Boston Crusaders (7th, 91.20) overcame the Phantom Regiment (8th, 90.65).
The two corps have traded the seventh and eighth position back and forth this summer, but the Crusaders will move into the Finals competition over Phantom with a comfortable point between their scores. Three-tenths of a point separated the Glassmen (10th, 87.95) and 11th ranked Blue Knights, earning a 87.55. The corps remain closely matched across all captions to keep the bottom section of the World Class excitingly competitive. Performing their last show of the season, the 2009 Colts fought hard in the midst of stiff competition. "As the summer went on, we kept going strong, but we would get in these little run-ins with other corps competing for one spot, which is what we had to do tonight," said third-year color guard member Lauren Austin. "Normally we have this or that solid spot, but this season we had to fight and put everything we had out on that field every time to be successful."
"Everyone knows that we put our best effort into tonight's performance and that's all we really could ask for. We had the crowd on their feet before we were even done, so that's the only memory I will take with me. We were successful," she said. The Academy took 14th place with a score of 83.75. Drum Major Andrew Hrynyshyn said the 2009 season was the best of his four with the corps. "This year has been about taking this journey and climbing as high as we possibly could together. No matter how hard things got or the struggles we had, we always stuck together and pushed ahead. My experience in 2009 has been that the effort is the prize. No matter what happens this weekend, the journey has been what's most important. 'The Ascent' has been what's most truly valued." A score of 82.40 earned the Madison Scouts 15th place. Scouts baritone player for the past three years Tony Manion said his biggest accomplishment with the corps didn't happen on the field, but with friends he made during his time with the corps.
"Our biggest accomplishment was the closeness we have with each other as a brotherhood and the bonds we share, that we know we'll always be there for each other, no matter what. I know 20 years from now if I have any trouble, I can call any of these guys, and they'd be there for me. I think that's just awesome." Crossmen color guard captain Nichole Naselrod said that over the course of the 2009 season, she faced unexpected challenges, but overall had a great time during her fourth year marching as a member of the Crossmen. The corps took 16th place with a score of 81.65 on Friday. "I think this has been my hardest season of drum corps. Being captain of the color guard has definitely brought a lot of responsibility and stress that I didn't realize went with the job, but overall I would say it was an enjoyable summer and one I'm going to miss," she said, explaining that it hadn't sunk in yet that she had just completed her last performance.
"I'm not ready to be done with drum corps," she said. Christian James, a contra player in his last year with Spirit (17th, 80.45), said standing ovations became a tradition during the season in response to the corps' popular show, "Live... In Concert!", which featured the classic rock music of Kansas. "Every show that we went to we had a very good crowd response. I loved it. It made my season to see that many people love our show that much." View a complete recap of scores from this event.