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In the latest twist in the ever-changing saga of the 2020-21 high school sports season, the Mother Lode League announced this afternoon that “due to guidance from JPA, all Mother Lode League play will be suspended pending guidance from state and local public health on approval of Tri-County Proposal.”

The announcement comes one day before the scheduled start of the first official MLL sporting events of the season as girls golf matches were slated to begin Tuesday afternoon and cross country meets were on tap for Wednesday with soccer (boys and girls) and football scheduled to begin next week.

The Amador and Argonaut high school girls golf teams were scheduled to open the season with a match at Castle Oaks Tuesday afternoon, and Amador High was scheduled to host a league cluster cross country meet on Wednesday, but as of now, those events – and all other MLL competitions – are back on hold.

The issue causing this latest delay has to do with state guidance on youth sports that allows only for competitions between teams in bordering counties. Since the MLL spans three counties (Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne) and two of those counties (Amador and Tuolumne) do not border each other, the league submitted a request to the public health departments in Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties to allow teams from all three counties to play against each other. The plan was approved locally, but has not yet been approved at the state level.

“The three public health officers from Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne County have all approved the proposal from the Mother Lode League to allow Tuolumne County to participate with Amador County, even though they are not a county that borders Amador," Amador County Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Sean Snider said Monday afternoon. "The final approval needs to come from the California Department of Public Health, however we are still awaiting that, despite many efforts from (Public Health Official) Dr. Kerr here in Amador County to get an answer.”

Without that approval from the state, the Joint Powers Authority (JPA), which handles insurance and liability for the local school districts, has recommended that competition be put on hold until the issue is resolved.

A statement posted on the MLL website today (updated for clarification around 4:30 p.m.) read: "As of March 1, 2021, all Mother Lode League inter-team competition has been temporarily postponed until further guidance."

According to MLL Commissioner Jerry Rucker, league officials are hoping to meet virtually as soon as tomorrow (Tuesday, March 2) to discuss this latest setback.

This story will be updated with the latest information as it becomes available.