PASADENA, Calif. — Saturday night in front of a crowd of more than 9,200 at the Rose Bowl, Santa Clara Vanguard and the Blue Devils continued their game of leapfrog through the 2018 DCI Tour.
With a score of 77.750, Vanguard defeated its northern California rival for the second time this season, winning the general effect caption by half of a point, while also taking top marks in percussion, brass and color guard.
“Absolutely incredible,” said Vanguard color guard captain Megan Smith. “It’s absolutely insane being here at the Rose Bowl especially as a California corps … The love the crowd has for us is wonderful.”
In four meetings, the two Bay Area powers have traded victories, with Vanguard’s advantage Saturday night being the largest for either corps to date in 2018. Blue Devils finished in second place with a score of 77.000.
In fact, the split between the two has been less than a point in all 14 of their head-to-head meetings since July 2, 2017. In the eyes of Blue Devils drum major C.C. Waggoner, the close competition has provided an extra spark in recent days of rehearsal.
“It does help the focus, to have a group really making us push our limits and perform our best all the time,” Waggoner said. “That’s one of the best things for us and for everyone else around, competitively, it’s just how we keep going and the activity gets better and better.”
With an energetic performance of their Egyptian-themed program, “The Fall and Rise,” Blue Knights (3rd, 71.050) kept some breathing room on the upstart Mandarins (4th, 69.700). The spread between the two slightly increased from a 1.25-point spread in Oceanside on Friday.
While Mandarins held a considerable lead in all visual captions, advantages across the board in music and general effect made the difference for the Denver corps.
That was an incredibly great run for us, especially at the Rose Bowl,” Blue Knights drum major Daniel Belcher said. “That was a really good show for us, and I know everyone in the corps is feeling great coming out of that.”
Also making its first performance since last Sunday, The Academy posted a score of 66.650 to earn fifth place. More than three points behind its competitor from Sacramento, the Arizona corps still managed to finish ahead in the brass caption.
“Amazing, that was probably one of our best runs, and it came after a really great rehearsal day,” Academy drum major Sierra Rogers said. “This is always such a great crowd, they always give it up.”
After having seen their lead over Pacific Crest fall to its lowest since 2012, Troopers (6th, 64.400) gained a decently larger advantage in Pasadena. Pacific Crest (7th, 63.050) kept things close, though, defeating the Casper corps in color guard and nearly doing the same in percussion.
“I’m elated,” Troopers drum major Gabe Gallegos said. “This is my first time in eight years being able to perform at the Rose Bowl, it’s just always been on my bucket list, and to go out there with this corps and be able to have a show like that and have the crowd be that receptive is just awesome.”
Gold kept a considerable advantage over the four other Open Class corps in Pasadena, with a score of 57.000. The San Diego-based corps won all but one caption with a 1.5-point lead in general effect being the highlight of its results.
“The corps has really come together this season,” Gold drum major Brandon Zhang said. “We have a lot of new talent and have put in a lot of work from the staff and members both on the field and off the field. It’s definitely coming together; the run was phenomenal, everything clicked.”
Taking second place in Open Class, Golden Empire closed its gap behind Gold to just over three points, after having trailed by nearly four Friday night in Oceanside. With a score of 53.950, Golden Empire earned top marks in visual analysis.
The gap between Impulse (3rd, 49.600) and Watchmen (4th, 49.150) also tightened from 1.1 points in Oceanside. Watchmen defeated Impulse in color guard and brass in Saturday’s event.
“I’m feeling hyped, feeling excited, feeling tired, all of those emotions in one” Watchmen drum major Noah Galambos said. “(Performing at Rose Bowl Stadium) is an amazing opportunity, really. I couldn’t ask for anything more for a developing group like this, I think this is just the greatest opportunity that we could be given by this organization.”
With brand-new additions to its 2018 program, “Neverland,” Incognito rounded out the Pasadena lineup with a score of 42.950, an improvement of just over half a point from yesterday’s event.
“We are a weekend-only corps,” Incognito director Alex Gray said. “So some of the stuff we just performed, we learned just a couple of hours ago, which is always a little nerve-wracking, but they did well. I’m really proud of them tonight.”
To wrap up a busy weekend of events in southern California, 13 of Saturday’s performing corps head to Riverside, California for a Sunday evening event.