by Steve Vickers

Competitive color guard has come a long way in the last three years. And the best example of just how for the activity really has come was demonstrated graphically on the weekend of March 29-30 in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was there that 60 guards form 14 states and one Canadian province came together to determine which guards were the best in open and Class A competition at the 1980 Winter Guard Olympics.

When the dust had cleared (literally), the Phantom Regiment had topped the open contingent and the West Bridgewater Wild Cats lead the Class A field. The venue was adequate, but certainly not as nice as last year's site at the Madison, Wisconsin Coliseum.

The midwest representatives fared better that expected (at least from the viewpoint of eastern guards) and copped first, third, fourth and eighth. It was a well deserved showing for the Phantom Regiment, Cavaliers, Guardsmen and State Street Review and hardly a fan at the final show on that Sunday afternoon disagreed with the outcome.

The Phantom Regiment scored 95.20 to walk away with their second consecutive WGI Olympic title. They performed as energetic and difficult show that featured very well- balanced equipment work and drill patterns to a theme similar to their 1979 production. John Brazzle and crew certainly deserve considerable recognition for the fine entertaining guard they put together this season.

Holley color guard from New York had to once again settle for the runner up position at 93.10. They changed musical styles this year and consistently awed the crowd of approximately 4,000 with their variations catching equipment behind their back. The finale of the show featured the entire guard performing with sabres and again catching them behind their backs. Holley's performance was slightly less exciting only because they had to follow the driving shows of both the Cavaliers (immediately preceding them) and the St. Patrick's Shramrocks. Nevertheless, the Holley guard is an outstanding example of superior class and show design.

The crowd loved the Cavaliers and the Cavaliers loved hyping for the crowd. They had one of the most driving and innovative shows on the floor this year and they never failed to get the fans up on their feet. A very strong third at 92.70 speaks well of this program and a consistency that should carry this guard well into the future.
Phantom Regiment
Jumping from a disappointing place in the prelims, the Guardsmen put on their "show of the year" and moved into fourth position by scoring 90.37. This midwest guard is the only one that rivals the eastern powers' sabre sections. The show design was highly entertaining this year, telling the story of Tina, a little girl in a toy shop playing with toy soldiers. They had the crowd with them all the way as they outperformed four guards that had placed higher than them in the previous day's prelims.

St. Patrick's Shamrocks brought back their popular Broadway-style show from last year, expanding on it and entertained the WGI crowd all the way. I understand this guard did not perform with the same enthusiasm that they had demonstrated earlier this season, but the still had the support of the audience and their fifth place finish at 90.07 was defiantly nothing to be ashamed of.

The Connecticut Skylarks turned their show concept around and came back this season with mew uniforms and a highly enjoyable package. While their 1979 show did nothing but drive, drive, drive... this year's "book" included many varied moods and drill/equipment highlights. Sixth spot with 89.27.
The Skylarks
Quasar slipped to a disappointing seventh, scoring 88.60 at their final show in Cape Cod. But they weren't all that far out of the running and still presented an outstanding show and extremely talented group of young ladies... especially those silk carriers. Once again Quasar had double flags flying high over the floor to oohs and aahs throughout. One negative thing about the guard, and something no one else has mentioned, was the distracting "antics" of their instructor, George Zingali. While every other guards staff was kept clear of the visual area of the floor during each guards' performance, the contest officials allowed Mr. Zingali to stand on a table at the back of the floor, waving a cane and yelling during his girls' performance. This is a disservice to the fine performance of the members of the Quasar color guard and certainly an annoying fact of the show from a spectator standpoint. I found myself constantly looking up at his "performance". Enough said.

State Street Review came to Cape Cod with a good track record in the midwest, but didn't fare too well in prelims. However, they were up for the Sunday afternoon show and moved up from tenth place to eight in the finals, tallying 87.80 points. This guard finished with a tie for best rifle line with the Cavaliers.

Marcus-Whitman high school guard came in next with 86.13 with a Broadway-type show reminiscent of many of the guards in this weekends competition. They defeated their close rivals, the Northmen, who came in tenth at 84.57, dropping from seventh position in the prelims. The California Royal Sabres maintained their position from prelims by coming in with 84.37.Opening the show with all rainbow colored flags, this guard moved one formation across the floor while also rotating at the same time. Every member of the guard looked like they had just spent a month on the beach in the sun.

St. Joseph Grenadiers hit the number twelve spot scoring 83.27 and represented the Easter Massachusetts Circuit well. These Massachusetts guards certainly turn out outstanding saber sections and the Grenadiers had one of the best. New uniforms were a welcome change and show design kept them in the thick of competition.

The only finalist from New Jersey came in the form of the Emerald Lancers. The placed thirteenth with 80.87 and presented an excellent Ralph Pace-designed drill and unique uniforms.

The New Imperials moved up one spot from prelims and landed the fourteenth position with 80.07. They began their show lounging on lawn chairs under palm trees. One of the American flag guards coaxed both field judges over to the different sidelines to give them flowered leia's and a kiss on the cheek. Calypso music and Hawaiian-type shirts and hats added to the different approach this guard had to their show. From a performance standpoint, there were still many recognizable traits from earlier days as St. Anthony's Imperials. Lack of competition since mid-season hurt their chances of being higher in this show.

The Mandarin from California completed the final show in Open Classs. This all-Oriental guard performed a ballet-style show that was considerably more low-key that the balance of the competitors. They were very graceful; and pretty and were definitely well-deserving of being included in the finals. They scored 79.83.

Class A competition had the West Bridgewater Wild Cats leading a fine contingent with 74.83. Second place went to the Miller's Blackhawks at 74.10 who had won the prelims. The Citations pinned down third at 72.73 followed by St. Mary's with 70.83 and the Rebelairs with 68.73.

The exhibition following the finals competition was provided by the Gold Guard form Hull, Massachusetts. They had unusual, but very attractive, uniforms and highlighted their show with the bottle dance from Fiddler On the Roof... complete with real wine bottles filled with wine, balanced on their heads during the dance. It was very well done.

If I didn't mention one of the guards in prelims, many who were there would wonder about the completeness of this report. While the Armegeddon guard met with quite mixed reaction from the crowd, they were, nevertheless, one of the most talked-about guards in the entire 60-guard lineup. Their show was about death and came complete with coffin, devil, ugly masks and depressing music. If you didn't see this guard during the season, you probably missed a performance that could be best described as "beyond bizzare."
The show was a huge success and I think everyone would agree that the competition, the arrangements for facilities and the surroundings at Cape Cod were great. Next year the show will be moved to Syracuse, New York and an expected larger representation of guards from even more areas of the country.

Reprinted by permisson of Drum Corps World

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Phantom Regiment Guardsmen


by David J. Klein, TOB PR Director and Drum Corps News Staff Writer

The sixteen Open class finalists were, without a doubt, the finest guards assembled this year. As the show progressed, one kept wondering what could be done to possibly top the present performance. With a few exceptions, each unit to appear was progressively better until finally Phantom Regiment performed.

Phantom Regiment left few doubts as to its superiority as the best guard in North America. The guard's show was the most carefully thought out, designed, produced and executed show ever seen. Somehow the 95.20 score of Phantom did not seem quite high enough. The entire Phantom Regiment's staff and marchers had obviously gone through fantastic efforts to get ready to win again.

Holly Hawks ran clinics on the use of the sabre and effective head position, while the Cavaliers did the same for rifles; incredible performances on the part of both units. Guardsmen, St. Pat's Shamrocks, Skylarks, Quasar, and State Street Review could all run clinics on audience entertainment. They may not have executed as well, but, did they entertain and excite the crowd! It should also be noted that Quasar had one of the most beautiful drills ever seen. Its flowing nature cannot be put into words.

All the other competitors were excellent in various degrees and for various reasons. Their members and staffs should not be too upset with placement or score. The audience loved and appreciated all.

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