RENTON, Wash. - Washington high school participation grew to a record high during the 2016-17 school year, with 172,229 student participants taking part in WIAA-sanctioned athletics and activities, according to the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) annual survey.
The participation total, which is consists of 97,359 male student participants and 74,870 female student participants, ranks 16th among high school state associations.
In boys athletics, participation increased in eight sports, with swimming and diving (+2.1%), soccer (+1.6%) and tennis (+1.6%) seeing the biggest jumps around the state. Football was the most popular sport among high school boys with a total of 21,748 taking the field in 2017-18, followed by track and field (15,423) and basketball (11,575).
In girls athletics saw increased participation in 13 sports with wrestling (+2.8%), swimming and diving (+2.3%) and gymnastics (+2.1%) leading the way. Track and field remains the most popular sport among girls in Washington with 11,860 participants but followed closely by volleyball (11,293) and soccer (10,039).
At the national level, girls participation in high school athletics saw the biggest increase in 16 years, while the total number of high school students competing in athletics and activities increased for the 28th consecutive year, reaching a total of 7,963,535.