Iron Horse 15

Members of Ogden football team create a wall to block Ben Lomond from watching their practice before battling each other in the Iron Horse game Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Scott Yetter's coaching status at Ogden High. The Standard-Examiner regrets the error.

The National Federation of State High School Associations released its annual high school sports participation survey Monday, releasing numbers for the 2018-19 school year.

The survey noted a slight decline in total participation in the state of Utah from 67,481 participants in 2017-18 to 67,320 in 2018-19.

Boys cross country participation rose by 17.9% year-over-year, going from 3,215 participants to 3,792 runners. It represented the highest increase of any boys sport in the state.

"I think some of it could be that you've got kids playing football that are no longer playing football and they're running cross country instead," Ogden High track and field coach Scott Yetter said. "We've got a couple of kids, we've got one that's played football in the past, but he's a sprinter and a thrower in the spring, plays basketball in the winter and decided to run cross country this year." 

Yetter said Ogden's numbers weren't up by a lot, but he wondered what numbers looked like school by school, especially in high-growth areas like west Weber County, Farmington and Syracuse.

Boys track and field, soccer and tennis each experienced slight participation increases.

Wrestling participation dropped by 3.9% from 3,460 wrestlers to 3,323.

Eleven-player football continues to hemorrhage participation numbers, dropping by 3.8% from 8,944 to 8,596, as more people turn away from the sport due to safety concerns.

Baseball dropped by 3.1% (3,687 to 3,572), swimming fell by 2.9% (2,058 to 1,988), basketball fell by 2.3% (3,883 to 3,792) and golf dropped by 2% (1,575 to 1,543).

On the girls side, wrestling saw the biggest increase percentage-wise, jumping up 22.8% to 124 participants in 2018-19 as the sport continues to be one of the fastest-growing in the nation.

The number of girls playing football rose from 16 to 19 in Utah. In terms of raw numbers, track and field gained 176 participants for a 3.3% raise, up to 5,423 participants from 5,247 in 2017-18.

Golf participation went up 3.3% (1,261 to 1,303), swimming jumped by 1.7% (2,171 to 2,210) and soccer rose by 1.6% (3,556 to 3,608).

Girls basketball participation fell 5.2% (3,268 to 3,098), cross country fell 3.6% (2,409 to 2,321), tennis dropped by 2.2% (2,096 to 2,047), softball slightly declined at 1.4% (2,406 to 2,371) and volleyball dipped by 1.3% (3,605 to 3,556).

The NFHS said it recorded its first nationwide decline in high school sports participation since 1988-89, as the total participant amount in 2018-19 came in at 7,937,491, a 43,395-person decline from its all-time record of 7,980,886 in 2017-18.

Eleven-player football declined to 1,006,013 players in the nation, the lowest number since 1999-2000 when 1,002,734 were recorded playing football. Numbers in 6-player, 8-player and 9-player football, none of which are offered in Utah, rose by 1,594 participants.

Boys wrestling, another sport that's been shedding numbers of late, saw a gain of 1,877 wrestlers nationwide.

You can reach prep sports reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @patrickcarr_ and on Facebook at facebook.com/patrickcarr17/.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!