SUTHERLIN — Students at West Intermediate School lined up along the sidewalk Wednesday and anxiously waited for buses with high school athletes to arrive.
Sutherlin’s football, volleyball, boys soccer and girls cross country teams qualified for postseason competition this season and received a district-wide sendoff in the morning by the younger students at East Primary and West Intermediate schools.
“This is huge for a school and a district our size and probably has never happened in Sutherlin before, at least not in recent history,” Sutherlin School District Superintendent Terry Prestianni said. “We have worked hard to get our students engaged in school activities not just athletics and this is just one of the positive side effects.”
Third grader Machias Ratledge was excited because his sister, freshman Jaden Ratledge, will compete at the state cross country meet on Saturday.
“I don’t normally go, but I’m going to see her (compete) this weekend,” Machias said, before his class erupted in a “Go Bulldogs!” chant.
More than 90 high school athletes exchanged high fives with elementary school students.
“This is my 15th year here and we have never had this many students,” Sutherlin High School Athletic Director Josh Grotting said. “We have good coaches, the district has been very supportive of the athletic programs and this is just a culmination of all that work.”
The Bulldogs’ boys soccer team will play at No. 6 St. Mary’s of Medford at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the first round of the 3A/2A/1A playoffs.
Sutherlin’s volleyball team made it through the first round of the playoffs and will play Santiam Christian at 1:15 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals at the state tournament in Forest Grove.
Sutherlin goes into the 3A state tournament as the eighth-seeded team, while Santiam Christian is seeded first.
The football team, which is seeded ninth, will play at the eighth seed, Cascade Christian, in Medford in the first round of the 3A playoffs, at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Bulldogs’ girls cross country team will be at the starting line at 10 a.m. Saturday in the 3A/2A/1A race at Lane Community College in Eugene after finishing third as a team in the district meet.
“We love doing this,” Grotting said. “We hope to inspire the next 95 to 100 kids.”