Mat Objstoj was leading the Mid-Suburban League boys diving meet after eight rounds and seemed poised to claim the championship.
The Hersey senior held a narrow lead over the next closest competitor and was preparing to throw what is usually one of his highest-scoring dives, a reverse 1½.
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After the dive had been announced and just as Obstoj was beginning his approach, a loud shriek pierced the pool deck at Barrington. Later, it was revealed that an upset wrestler competing in the sectional in Barrington's gym was venting some frustration, but while it was happening, it seemed like a distraction aimed specifically to disrupt Obstoj.
"It kind of frazzled me," he said. "I was so in the moment, and then . . . I think if I had it to do over again, I'd take a little bit more time to refocus."
The reverse-and-a-half was not the usual high-scorer it is for Obstoj, but over the long haul he still proved to be the best of the bunch on this night -- barely.
Obstoj finished at 333.80, with Conant's Bartek Turek at 331.45 and Rolling Meadows' Matt Crigler at 330.10. Places four through six went to Schaumburg Matt Sigler (323.65), Hersey's Jack Kintzle (318.70) and Fremd's Cameron Hewett (317.45).
Obstoj said he had three main goals this -- to go undefeated in dual meets, to win the conference title and to place in the top six at the sectional meet and earn a spot in the state meet.
It's mission accomplished on the first two goals, and Obstoj said it was a mainly a matter of committing fully to his sport.
"Club diving really made a difference for me," said Obstoj, who competed with Windy City before the high school season. "It gets you that much more prepared for when something doesn't go exactly like you planned it. You just realize it's not making a mistake that's going to determine how you do, but how you react to it."
Or, in this case, how you don't react to it.
"The biggest difference with Mat is his maturity," said Hersey coach Tom Schwab. "I think he did lose focus just a little bit, but he was tough enough to get through that and ended up finishing strong."
Diving counts as one event in the Mid-Suburban League swimming and diving championships, which resume at 1 p.m. Saturday at Barrington.