It was like a night at the Oscars for Cindy Dell.
Minus the red carpet.
On the eve of the 87th Academy Awards, the Lake Forest High School swim coach was one of the master presenters at the Vernon Hills Sectional on Feb. 21.
The Scouts won seven of 12 events, which meant Dell had the duty of doling out individual medals seven times.
Winning has its perks.
“She was up and down like a yo-yo,” said Scouts senior Daniel Smith.
Once again, it was the Fab Four — swimmers Dylan Boyd, Michael LeMay, Symen Ooms and Daniel Smith — and the Dynamic Duo — divers John-Michael Diveris and Alex Streightiff — which carried the day for the Scouts, who were awarded the first-place plaque by outscoring Libertyville 276-226.
“We know … next Saturday (state finals at New Trier on Feb. 27-28) is what it’s all about,” said Dell. “Today was about making a statement.”
Ooms truly was “ooutstanding”. He gets the Best Performance award for going home with four first-place medals.
And the LF senior was at his very best in the final race of the meet, when he came from behind to put the finishing kick on LF’s win in the 400 free relay (3:10.36). Libertyville was second in 3:10.69.
“He (Ooms) was pretty incredible at the end,” said Smith, who was part of that relay along with Boyd and LeMay. “He’s such a great racer. He hates to lose, which is a really good trait to have when you’re an anchor.”
His other wins came in the 50 free (21.09), 100 free (46.55) and 200 medley relay (1:36.83).
“Getting in the 46s (in the 100 free) was one of my main goals today,” said Ooms.
And beating a tough swimmer like Grayslake North star Brendon Bolman (47.14), who came in as the favorite, made it even better for Ooms.
Lane 4 also wasn’t safe in the 200 free. Boyd proved that when he blasted to a 1:39.42 clocking, which allowed him to beat Libertyville standout and event favorite, Matt Harrington (1:40.06).
And, along the way, Boyd broke a pool record, which was owned by former LFHS star Mitch Stoehr (1:40.22).
The 200 medley relay was another showcase event for the Scouts. Smith (backstroke), Ooms (breaststroke), LeMay (butterfly) and Boyd (freestyle) blew by everyone in a time of 1:36.83.
“The medley relay plays to our strengths,” said Ooms. “Daniel is known for his backstroke, and he was phenomenal. Michael looked good in the fly, and Dylan killed it the freestyle. It was a nice collaboration.”
LeMay had a good day. In addition to the two winning relays, the senior took first in the 200 IM in 1:57.92, while he added a third in the 100 butterfly (52.34) behind super swimmers Harrington (49.74) and Boyd (51.14).
“The 100 fly is a journey for me,” said LeMay. “I’m OK. I’m not bad. But Dylan? He’s an amazing swimmer. Insanely fast.”
And, in addition to his two relays, Smith made the state cut in two individual events: 100 free (3rd, 47.1) and 100 back (2nd, 51.73).
Streightiff and Diveris continue to ascend in diving competition. They set the tone for an LF team victory, when they went 1-2 in the morning diving session. Streightiff registered a lofty 534.80 total, which shattered the pool record (470.80). Diveris claimed runner-up honors with a 473.30.
Another key scorer for the Scouts was senior Scott Bennatan, who took runner-up honors in the 500 free (4:52.05). He missed the state cut (4:46.85), but he did trim nearly 10 seconds off his PR. He also was sixth in the 200 free (1:50.22).
Michael Hambleton of the Scouts was fifth in the 500 free (4:55.40).
Highlighted by the first-place performances of junior Allen Tran and sophomore Levy Nathan, the Giants tallied 181 points to finish fourth at the VH Sectional.
With his school-record time of 59.41, Tran lived up to his No. 1 seeding in the 100 breaststroke.
“He improved his time, even though he went out a little conservatively,” said HP head coach Tim Sirois.
Tran added a third-place in the 200 IM (2:02.11).
Meanwhile, Nathan raced to a runaway first-place finish in the 500 free (4:46.52).
“Levy got after it,” said Sirois. “That was nice to see.”
Nathan also is developing into a top-notch swimmer in the 200 free. He took third in 1:45.22. The state cut is 1:44.92.
“He missed it by a hair,” Sirois said.
HP’s other near miss came in the 200 medley relay. The foursome of Tran, Nathan, Hugh Laedlein and Eddie Kochman recorded a third-place time of 1:38.0. They needed a 1:37.95 to qualify.
It was Kochman’s last hurrah.
“Eddie has been a great leader for us,” said Sirois. “He’s a true team player, who is always concerned about his teammates. I’m real proud of the way he carries himself.”
This also was Sam Dotson’s final high school meet. The senior finished fifth in the 100 breast in 1:02.52.