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Jalen Patterson dribbles the ball for the Liberty Ranch Hawks in the section championship game at Golden 1 Center.

In any other year, March through May would have consisted of baseball, softball, track and field, swimming, tennis and golf for local school athletic programs, and we’d be wrapped up in basketball and wrestling tournaments at this time of the year.

This year may have seen nine and a half months go by without a high school sports game but, besides COVID-19, 2020 had its share of memorable sports achievements.

COVID-19 halts spring sports and delays 2020-21 season

On March 13, schools played their final games before the spring high school sports season was cancelled due to safety precautions regarding the pandemic. Some programs had only had one meet under their belt, while others had just started their league seasons. The CIF held a meeting March 17 and CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti noted at the time that they didn’t have plans to cancel the spring sports postseason. That would change after an April 3 CIF meeting where it was decided the spring postseason would be cancelled. Sports ended up being cancelled altogether for the remainder of the season, and what would normally have been the fall and winter sports seasons in 2020 were relabeled as all sports for the 2020-21 season were categorized as either Season 1 or Season 2.

Season 1 has been delayed and, although teams have been able to work out or condition at various points of the year, student-athletes may be looking at a late January start date at the earliest, depending on local health guidelines.

Patterson becomes SJS’s

second all-time scoring leader

Before he would go on to become Liberty Ranch’s Male Athlete of the Year, Jalen Patterson hit a milestone in January when he became the Sac-Joaquin Section’s second-most all-time scoring leader for boys’ basketball.

Patterson, who is the Hawks’ all-time scoring leader and graduated in 2020 to see his storied career at Liberty Ranch close with a stack of achievements on the court, was honored with the game ball from his historic night during halftime of a Liberty Ranch home game against Rosemont, which the Hawks had placed in glass case for the occasion.

Patterson went on to sign a scholarship with Arizona Western College and would be named SVC MVP to cap his illustrious prep career.

Medina-Valdez returns to

CIF Wrestling Championships

Returning for her second year with the Liberty Ranch Hawks, Itzel Medina-Valdez had a landmark season as she competed in her second straight CIF Wrestling Championship tournament.

Medina-Valdez is the highest-achieving Hawk wrestler, as no other Hawk in the program has reached state.

Medina-Valdez went 1-2 in the 106-pound weight class after facing the eventual 106-pound champion as well as the eighth place winner. The then junior reached the tournament after placing fourth at the SJS Masters.

Warriors place second in

SJS D3 Championship Game

It was their third consecutive SJS Championship appearance and the Galt Warriors looked they could come away with yet another blue and white pennant as they faced East Union on Feb. 29.

The Lancers went on to win 2-0 to upset the top-seeded Warriors. Before playing in the game, Galt had won the Sierra Valley Conference Championship undefeated; they ended the year 22-3-1 after facing Harker in CIF NorCal playoffs.

The Warriors previously defeated Livingston for the 2018 and 2019 SJS Championships.

Hawks place second

at Golden 1

After another year filled with highlights, the Liberty Ranch boys’ basketball program played in the SJS Championship game at Golden 1 Center in the hopes of bringing home their first section title.

The Hawks would face Sonora, whom they faced earlier in the preseason and defeated. They faced Sonora one year earlier in the SJS title game as well; while they lost by 13 points, the game allowed them to return to the CIF NorCal playoffs where they faced Hoover of Fresno and lost a nail-biter 66-64.