AFTER THE WHISTLE

Mulling over the Mullen situation

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— Mullen in this weekend's regional cross country meet in Palisade?

Say it ain't so.

Mullen fits into this weekend's west regional about as well as I fit into the uniform of one of the Broncos' starting defensive linemen.

It's like the Colorado High School Activities Association failed some sort of written geography test when it came to planning this year's regional meets.

Everyone knows Battle Mountain, Delta, Glenwood Springs, Moffat County, Montezuma-Cortez, Montrose, Palisade, Rifle and Steamboat Springs belong in the west.

But Mullen?

Somebody must have sneezed while they were looking at the map. Mullen is a metro-area school more than four hours from Palisade.

The Mustangs stick out in the west regional like the guy who decided to wear a Hawaiian shirt to a funeral.

I didn't believe Steamboat coach John Smith when he told me Mullen was going to be competing against Steamboat at the regional level. So I picked up a phone and called the CHSAA hoping to correct this major oversight before it was too late.

But to my surprise a voice on the other end of the phone told me the Mullen mix-up wasn't a mistake at all.

That scenario also allows Mullen to compete in the Class 5A division in sports such as football, baseball and basketball.

But it also leaves the school free to battle for titles in the 4A classification in golf and cross country.

"Yes, Mullen will compete in the west regional," a helpful Rhonda Blanford Green explained last week.

She informed me that, like it or not, Mullen is an independent 4A school. Because most of the school's sports fall into the 5A division, the school has been placed in the Centennial League. The problem is no 4A regional for the Centennial league exists, so for Mullen must compete in the 4A regionals.

That is why for the past two years Mullen was in the north region.

But to make things fair, Mullen is moved to a different region every two years.

Unfortunately for schools on the Western Slope, their turn to host the powerhouse school from Denver has arrived.

Smith doesn't think it is fair.

But fair or not, for the next two years Mullen will compete with other Western Slope teams for state berths.

It's bad news for schools like Moffat County, Glenwood and Steamboat, which have always battled for state berths with a handful of other Western Slope schools.

But it's good news for teams in the north region that have been dealing with Mullen (a school that really should be in the 5A division) for the past two years.

But the truth is that unless the CHSAA wants to make Mullen commit to one division or the other which it should this system may be the only equitable solution.

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