Despite all the challenges college wrestling programs face — reduced budgets, eliminated programs, limited scholarship availability — there’s no shortage of future mat talent in the pipeline from US high schools.
For the sixth straight year, high school boys’ wrestling participation numbers have increased while girls’ participation hit an all-time high as the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) released the 2009-10 participation numbers.
The numbers tell an encouraging story for both male and female prep wrestlers:
> Boys’ high school wrestling: The number of boys wrestling in 2009-10 was 272,890. That makes wrestling the sixth most popular boy’s sport in terms of participation levels. The total number of boys wrestling in high school in 2010 is the highest number the sport has seen since 1980, when participation statistics were listed at 273,326 by the NFHS.
More good news: the total number of boys’ wrestling teams is at an all-time high, with 10,363 programs nationally.
In terms of total teams and individuals involved in high school wrestling, these numbers show significant growth in the past year with 111 programs added since 2008-09 and individual participation up by 5,512.
This growth is part of an ongoing trend. In the past decade 1,317 teams have been added throughout the country along with an increase in individual participation of 33, 785. Every state but Mississippi has high school wrestling.
> Girls’ high school wrestling: Girls’ wrestling is at an all-time high, with 6,134 participants. Texas and California continue to have the strongest girls wrestling presence on the high school level.
“These numbers are a testament to the hard work that is going on at the youth level to educate our coaches and youth wrestlers. With participation numbers steadily climbing this gives a bright outlook on the future of the sport of wrestling at the high school level,” said Mike Moyer, Executive Director of the NWCA (National Wrestling Coaches Association).
“The NWCA’s primary mission is to develop the most proficient coaches in the nation so we can sustain this phenomenal participation growth in wrestling. In doing so, we can be assured that student-wrestlers across the nation are receiving a high quality, educationally based sports experience,” said Moyer.
Thanks to The Guillotine — the magazine and website for wrestling news from the state of Minnesota — for alerting us to this story.
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National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA): Participation numbers at high school level increased in 2009-2010
NHSF press release: High school participation (in all sports) tops 7.6 million
College Wrestling 101: Links to articles answering basic questions about wrestling, including rules, scoring, uniforms, more
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