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Season B is confirmed and moved up by a week

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
CDPHE relaxes restrictions; winter-sporters happy with the change as well as possibility for even more.
Consider it as promise of a belated Christmas present of sorts for the new Season B student-athletes …

Season B, the second of four sports seasons in the high-school year during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,  will begin practice on Jan. 18 instead of Jan. 25, it was announced on Monday. Plus, there’s the probability for additional events as higher numbers of participants in a closed setting have been confirmed.

As well, Season B will begin competition on Jan. 25 as opposed to Feb. 1. All of this comes after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment moved preseason practice from Jan. 4.

“We will always make it work,” Mullen athletic director Damian Brown said. “Whatever we have to do …”

The Colorado High School Activities Association indicated it will have a complete update on Wednesday, Dec. 23. Brown also said he will meet with others in the Centennial League on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

There had been speculation about the viability of Season B, which at one point seemed in jeopardy with the national spike of COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving. However, with multiple vaccines being issued  over the past few days as well as the COVID-19 curves for cases and hospitalizations falling for several days in succession, speculation had switched to Season B possibly beginning earlier to get in line with the call for students to return to in-person learning at the conclusion of the current holiday break.

Those associated with boys and girls basketball, ice hockey, girls swimming and diving, boys and girls skiing, boys and girls wrestling, and competitive spirit are witnessing the first positive move since Season B was announced months ago with the possibility for more.

“It’s great news,” Mustangs boys basketball coach Bob Caton said. “Hopefully, we will also get to play more games.”

As of now, in basketball the Mustangs and Centennial schools are looking at playing just 12 games in the regular season, and all against each other  – two to be considered nonleague, seven in league and a regular-season-ending, three-game league tournament.

Until Monday, guidelines from multiple state organizations had a limit of 10 individuals in a gymnasium, including everyone from coaches to players to trainers. However, for example, new variances have 24 basketball players total in the gym in addition to coaches and trainers.

“We still don’t know if we’ll have fans,” Brown said.

And while considerable work needs to continue, positive news in the face of the first inactive December on Colorado high-school-sports record (at least a century) was welcomed with open arms by the Mullen community.

Even with her team not knowing much about pool availability, “it will be nice to have those extra practices,” Mustangs girls swimming and diving head coach Susan Stone said.

Ice hockey is another sport that depends on availability, in this case with a limited number of rinks. Wrestling, which is staring at a season of dual meets, also appears to be clear of rotating competitors in and out of the gym.

And Mustangs girls basketball head coach Frank Cawley, whose team won the Class 4A Colorado championship in 2019 and never got the chance to make it two in a row after a semifinals victory the past March, was elated about the possibility.

“Thanks to the government officials and the CHSAA for getting the Season B started,” he said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to play as much of our season as possible.”

Like the four of five Mustangs teams in Season A, when only league play was permitted, Cawley and Mullen account for the only 4A team in an eight-team group with seven 5A schools.

“Hopefully,” Cawley said, “this will allow us to play 14 games and have a normal league season … we can’t wait to get into the gym.”