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Pool play secured for Mustangs

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
Mullen will practice at Smoky Hill in Aurora; in the new Season B, 'Stangs again should contend in Class 4A.

(First in a series of previews for the new Season B.)
If nothing else, color the Mullen girls swimming and diving team as exceptionally fortunate. And totally relieved. And really happy.

Indeed, because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the official start of practice for the new Season B was met with open arms that stretched across Colorado, but carried added meaning for the Mustangs, who for months didn’t know if they would have one of the most-essential pieces to maintaining a girls swimming and diving team … access to a pool.

“I was worried we weren’t going to have a season,” Mullen head coach Susan Stone said.

There is no pool on campus, The Athmar Recreation Center at nearby West Mexico Avenue, ordinarily used for practice, is still temporarily closed. And Stone and school officials had no success in landing a pool elsewhere as several remain shut down and others currently aren’t available for rent.

However, with assistance from athletic director Damian Brown as well as former Mullen coach Scott Cohen, the Mustangs will practice in the evenings at Smoky Hill in Aurora. Cohen coaches the host Buffaloes and they, too, are in the Centennial League. He called the decision to share “a no-brainer.”

“Oh, yeah, we’re happy to have them, happy they’ll have a team,” he said. “I can’t imagine those kids with no place to go or be split up at other places. It would be horrible. It’s the right thing to do, be able to be a team and what high schools and the sport they love should be about.”

It will be a longer drive in evenings for competitors and families, but it certainly beats the alternative.

More good news is this could be another of Stone’s top teams. The Mustangs were third in Class 4A a year ago, fourth in 2018-19 and sixth in 2017-18, and Stone was named 4A coach of the year at the previous Colorado meet.

Mullen’s front-liners include Claire Chahbandour, Chase Davison, Lindsey Sowitch and Gabrielle Zinis. Chahbandour has signed to compete at Texas Christian; Davison, a junior, has already pledged to Texas; and Zinis will swim at San Diego.

Stone also noted two promising freshmen – Elizabeth Davison, Chase’s sister, and Charlotte Burnham.

The Mustangs, who are used to not hosting meets, will open their season on Jan. 28 at always powerful 5A Cherry Creek. It will be a shorter season with fewer meets and culminate on March 6 with the league meet and the 4A championships on March 12 at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton.

“It has been crazy, it really has,” Stone said of preparing for the season. “It has been a challenge, but I’m very happy it worked out and I think we’ll have a strong team.”