SAN ANTONIO, Texas — For the very first time, Santa Clara Vanguard took home first place in San Antonio at Saturday’s DCI Southwestern Championship presented by Fred J. Miller, Inc.

With all 24 World Class corps together for the first time in 2018 in front of nearly 13,000 fans, Vanguard’s victory was one of many intriguing storylines developed in the heart of Texas.

 1. Santa Clara Vanguard » 92.325
 2. Blue Devils » 90.975
 3. Bluecoats » 90.675

For the third time this week, Santa Clara Vanguard topped both the Bluecoats and the Blue Devils. Thanks to overall wins in general effect, percussion and total music, Vanguard kept its distance from the rest of the pack, with 1.35 points separating itself from the rest of the field.

“I’m feeling fantastic,” Vanguard drum major Carl Huang said. “Nothing has stopped this corps from just coming out on the field and rehearsing hard and smart every single day. We’ve always kept our eyes on the prize and told ourselves nothing’s going to keep us back.”

(VIDEO) Vanguard drum major Carl Huang on his corps' win in San Antonio

The race between Blue Devils and Bluecoats, however, continues to be one of the most hotly-contested races; Friday night in Katy, Texas, the Bluecoats defeated their opponent from Concord, for the first time since 2016, by just 75 hundredths of a point.

In Saturday’s event, Blue Devils jumped back ahead of the Canton corps by three tenths of a point, thanks to strong showings in the music captions.

“Coming into tonight especially with the dome it was no-holds-barred with throwing down and everybody giving it their all,” Blue Devils drum major C.C. Waggoner said. “That’s been our focus the past few days and past week, just making sure that we can be consistent on the field and in rehearsal.”

View all scores from the DCI Southwestern Championship

According to Bluecoats drum major Samuel Crawford, the recent inclusion of a tweaked ending to Bluecoats’ 2018 program, “Session 44,” has enhanced the quality of the production.

“It’s really the punctuation that we need on the show,” he said. “It gives us something to fight for and something to fight until the end for.”

The CavaliersThe Cavaliers
 4. Carolina Crown » 90.088
 5. The Cavaliers » 88.412
 6. Boston Crusaders » 88.250

Saturday’s brass caption-winner, Carolina Crown, became the fourth corps to break the 90-point threshold this season. Crown also came within a point of both Bluecoats and Blue Devils for the first time this month.

Not far back from there, Boston Crusaders continued a successful season by coming within just 0.162 points of The Cavaliers.

Boston took first place in color guard, while also defeating the Rosemont corps in general effect. Like a handful of other corps this week, the Crusaders added a brand-new ending onto their production, “S.O.S.”

“I feel so accomplished after that run,” Boston drum major Kaitlin Oresky said. “Putting together that ending the past couple days, putting it out there and just having a good performance overall is very exciting.”

Confident Crusaders riding strong start into regional season

Blue KnightsBlue Knights

 7. The Cadets » 85.838
 8. Blue Knights » 84.200
 9. Blue Stars » 84.013
 10. Phantom Regiment » 83.725

At Friday night’s Tour of Champions event in Katy, The Cadets, Blue Knights and Phantom Regiment were all together for the first time this season, and were separated by a surprisingly small margin of nine tenths of a point.

According to drum major Claire Albrecht, recent changes to the end of The Cadets’ production — including the corps’ famous “Z-Pull” visual maneuver — have energized the Allentown corps, which found its strength in the music captions.

“It’s so cool, it means so much to us,” Albrecht said of the longstanding Cadets tradition. “Having a Z-Pull in our show allows us to just go crazy and give audiences the energy that we want back from them.”

For the Blue Stars, Saturday marked the continuation of an impressive couple of weeks. After trading places two weeks ago heading into DCI Minnesota, the Wisconsin corps surged ahead of Phantom Regiment by just 0.1625 points Sunday in St. Louis.

In San Antonio, the Blue Stars kept that slim advantage intact thanks, in part, to its impressive seventh-place finish in color guard. The corps also finished closer to Blue Knights than it has since 2016.

“Determination has been the biggest mood lately,” Blue Stars drum major Lexi Para said. “We’re really happy about where we are right now. We absolutely believe that we can push even further and every day we’re getting noticeably better and better.”

The AcademyThe Academy

 11. Mandarins » 82.175
 12. Crossmen » 80.850
 13. The Academy » 79.725
 14. Spirit of Atlanta » 78.188

(VIDEO) Learn more about Crossmen’s home show experience

Mandarins’ strong start to the season, to this point, manifested itself in a top-12 finish at the first meeting of all 24 World Class corps. For the Sacramento corps, which has never been a World Class finalist, a ninth-place finish in color guard led to another encouraging overall result.

“I feel great,” Mandarins drum major Marcus Holifield-Helm said. “That was an awesome run, we’ve been putting in a lot of work in this heat, especially, and it just all showed up today on the field."

Read more about the developing race to the DCI World Championship Finals


 15. Colts » 77.825
 16. Madison Scouts » 77.225
 17. Troopers » 76.050

Colts jumped back ahead of Madison Scouts for the first time in two weeks, marking the Iowa corps’ fourth win in nine head-to-head meetings. While the Scouts held a considerable lead in general effect, Colts’ music scores, in particular the group’s percussion section, pushed it over the top.

Madison Scouts’ impressive output in the general effect caption could be attributed to a handful of production changes that have energized the corps’ members entering the home stretch of the season.

“The corps is feeling really, really good, and they should, because it was their best run so far this season,” Madison Scouts assistant director David Lofy said. “I know they’re in the tunnel right now going through their talks and I know they’ve got to be feeling great.”

Oregon CrusadersOregon Crusaders

 18. Pacific Crest » 72.175
 19. Music City » 70.500
 20. Oregon Crusaders » 69.813
 21. Genesis » 67.950

Pacific Crest — which started pulling away from Oregon Crusaders when the two made their way to Denver last weekend — held a strong advantage in San Antonio.

While Saturday marked the first meetings with Music City and Genesis for the southern California corps, its lead over Oregon Crusaders grew significantly from 1.9 points, Tuesday in Olathe, Kansas.

Read more about Pacific Crest’s Hollywood-themed 2018 program

“We’ve battled through the heat the past couple of days, but all things considered, the members poured their hearts into that performance,” drum major Andrew Fresquez said. “It’s a little nerve-wracking coming into San Antonio. Everyone wants to give it their all.”

For the first time in its 11-year history, Music City defeated Oregon Crusaders head-to-head. For the Nashville corps, substantial leads in general effect and total visual made up for a decent-sized deficit in total music.

What had been eight tenths of a point separating Music City and Genesis in St. Louis also opened up to more than two full points in San Antonio.

“The more shows we have, the more the audience gets to know us, the more hyped we get, and the more energy they put into the performance,” Music City drum major Scott Smith said. “It’s really exciting. The crowd seems to love it, and we just keep pushing for it.

(VIDEO) More on Music City’s railroad-inspired production


 22. Jersey Surf » 65.275
 23. Seattle Cascades » 65.175
 24. Pioneer » 60.025

At Saturday’s event, Jersey Surf made major waves, by passing the Seattle Cascades for the first time since 2015, thanks to a strong lead in general effect. Saturday’s event marked the first meeting between the two this season; in 2017, the Cascades never led Surf by less than 1.75 points.

(VIDEO) Seattle Cascades director Michael Tran talks about the corps’ 2018 progress

Not far behind, Pioneer rounded out the World Class lineup in 24th, following what was a solid performance, according to drum major Jackie Hirn.

“You could feel the energy coming from the corps, and things clicked today that haven’t been clicking just yet,” Hirn said. “The corps seems really hyped with how it went.”


 1. Guardians » 65.025

Now seven performances into its summer tour, Guardians’ San Antonio score is just over six points higher than the corps’ output at this same event a year ago.

“It feels great to throw down an amazing show inside the dome,” Guardians drum major Garison James said. “I feel proud of my group, and also I feel very excited because we just impacted peoples’ lives in a positive way.”

Following a free day in San Antonio Sunday, all 24 World Class corps will begin making their way toward Atlanta, Georgia, with the DCI Southeastern Championship presented by Lone Star Percussion, and the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, looming Saturday.

View photos from the DCI Southwestern Championship

View the 2018 DCI Tour schedule