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Mullen rises to 2nd in Class 4A

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
Mustangs' quality proves vital -- they placed in 10-of-12 events, won 2 races and turned in an All-American time in their threepeat in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
THORNTON – Like everyone else in the Colorado world of girls swimming and diving, their season was delayed.

But Mullen’s Mustangs had additional difficulties and hardship.

They’re one of the in-state schools that doesn’t have a pool and their recreation-center practice site didn’t re-open, so they didn’t land one to use until mere days before the start of the season in late January.

They were quarantined for the first week of the season and missed their first meet.

They never got to host a meet and practiced at a pool (Smoky Hill High School) more than 15 miles away, and at night, frequently after 6:30 p.m.

They had almost as many practices as meets.

And when they went to Thornton on Friday for the Class 4A Championships, one of the longest meets on record because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, they had all of seven competitors ... and none of them blinked.

So what happened? At the Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center, the Mustangs won two races, placed in 10 of the 12 events and finished in second place as a team.

“It was very, very sweet,” Mullen head coach Susan Stone said. “It was like we won it.”

Heritage, which dropped down from 5A, won the meet with 495.5 points to Mullen’s 322, but the Mustangs handled the quality vs. quantity thing with aplomb, accumulating even more points than Stone had hoped.

“Oh, my gosh, and then some,” Stone said. “They all just swam lights out!”

A highlight among many happened in the 200-yard freestyle relay, where the Mustangs won for a third consecutive season. Gabrielle Zinis, Claire Chahbandour, Lindsey Sowitch and Chase Davison won in 1 minute, 34.84
seconds, for an All-American effort, a school mark and it surpassed the 4A meet mark previously held by Valor Christian.

Davison, a junior who has commtted to Texas, also won the 100 backstroke in 54.74.

As for runners-up in races, the 200 medley relay team of Charlotte Burnham, Chahbandour (headed to TCU), Sowitch and Davison ended in 1:44.11, a Mullen record; Davison buzzed in the 200 freestyle, 1:49.38; Burnham produced in the 200 IM, 2:03.62; and Chahbandour had two, in the 50 freestyle, 23.52, and 100 breaststroke, 1:02.64.

Burnham also was third in the 100 breaststroke, 1:02.91; Zinis, headed to San Diego, contributed a fourth in the 50 freestyle, 24.04, and a sixth in the 100 freestyle; the 400 freestyle relay group of Burham, Sahara Zurita, Elizabeth Davison and Zinis was seventh, 3:40.66; Sowitch was seventh in the 200 freestyle, 1:55.73; and Sowitch, 11th, 58.63, and Elizabeth Davison, 20th, 1:02.60, added valuable points in the 100 butterfly.

And because of COVID restrictions, only a certain amount of people were allowed in the VMAC, which was cleared after every race. But a 12-hour meet wasn’t unreasonable, Stone said. Meet folks retreated to vans and other recreational vehicles, and hotel rooms while the facility was cleaned.

“It was run really well, so it didn’t feel like it was that long,” Stone said. “Don’t get me wrong – it felt long, but I was  impressed with how it went. Our girls handled it extremely well.”

Plus, Stone, in her seventh season, remembers her first year, when just 13 girls were on the team, only one qualified for state and didn’t make the final.

Not even the pandemic could hold Mullen back.

“I’m just so proud of every one of them.” Stone said of her team members.
Top team scores -- Heritage 495.5, Mullen 322, Niwot 307, Rampart 291.5, Pine Creek 229.


200-yard Medley Relay –
2. Charlotte Burnham, Claire Chahbandour, Lindsey Sowitch, Chase Davison), 1 minute, 44.11
seconds, school record.

200 freestyle –
2. Chase Davison, 1:49.38; 7. Lindsey Sowitch, 1:55.73.

200 Individual Medley –
2. Charlotte Burnham, 2:03.62.

50 Freestyle –
2. Claire Chahbandour, 23.52; 4. Gabrielle Zinis, 24.04.

100 Butterfly –
11. Lindsey Sowitch,  58.63; 20. Elizabeth Davison, 1:02.60.

100 Freestyle –
6. Gabrielle Zinis, 53.40.

200 Freestyle Relay –
1. Gabrielle Zinis, Claire Chahbandour, Lindsey Sowitch, Chase Davison, 1:34.84, All-American time, meet and school record

100 Backstroke –
1. Chase Davison, 54.74.

100 Breaststroke –
2. Claire Chahbandour, 1:02.64; 3. Charlotte Burnham, 1:02.91.

400 Freestyle Relay –
7, Charlotte Burnham, Sahara Zurita, Elizabeth Davison, Gabrielle Zinis, 3:40.66.