High School Girls Wrestling Participation Numbers

Updated: September 6, 2018

Nationwide Participation

The NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) has released the results of its annual sports participation survey. And, once again, girls wrestling has had great growth in its participation numbers over the previous academic year. With 16,562 participating wrestlers this year, girls wrestling had a 13.5% increase as compared to last season’s 14,587. Girls wrestling moved ahead of girls dance (14,875 participants) moving up to the 18th spot in participation for girls. There is a good chance that wrestling could jump ahead of gymnastics this upcoming season; especially with Colorado (as a pilot program), Massachusetts and Oregon joining Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington in sponsoring girls wrestling state championships.

Something that needs to be noted about the results; the survey is voluntarily submitted by each state. Each state, in turn, gets their numbers from individual schools reporting their numbers, also voluntarily. As a result, there is a high probability of underreporting. It is, therefore, very important that every school, with at least one wrester-girl, do their part to ensure the NFHS gets the most accurate information possible. That way, they can allocate the proper amount of personnel and resources when making decisions affecting the sport.

I have included a summary of the national participation numbers as of 1979 below.

Some interesting facts:

  • Girls Wrestling has grown nationwide for 28 consecutive years (since the 1990-91 season).
  • In the last ten years, girls high school has had a 174.88% growth in the number of participants.
  • The NFHS began to give girls wrestling its own data column after the 2003-04 season and has continued to do so ever since. Prior to that, girls wrestling was grouped with low-participation sports.
  • Prior to the 1979-80 season, girls participation in any sport was either not tracked or was included in the boys numbers.

On a side note, I want to thank the 48 women who, in 1979, and the 8, who in 1982, set foot on the mats to compete. I would like to believe that their pioneering spirit planted a seed in some coaches’ minds that made them see the potential in girls wrestling. I wish I knew what happened to them as the following year reported participation fell to 0 in both groups.

High School Girls Wrestling Nationwide Participation Numbers
Academic Year # of Schools # of Participants Participation Rank (Girls Only)/
Total number of Sports
% Up/Down (Participants)
vs. previous year
2017-18 2,351 16,562 18/82 13.5% Up
2016-17 2,091 14,587 19/80 8.1% Up
2015-16 1,941 13,496 19/78 17.4% Up
2014-15 1,806 11,496 20/62 16% Up
2013-14 1,516 9,904 20/60 13.5% Up
2012-13 1,602 8,727 22/65 5.9% Up
2011-12 1,441 8,235 23/50 12% Up
2010-11 1,215 7,351 23/50 19.8% Up
2009-10 1,009 6,134 25/50 1.8% Up
2008-09 1,034 6,025 23/50 9% Up
2007-08 1,287 5,527 22/47 9.5% Up
2006-07 1,227 5,048 23/48 1.5% Up
2005-06 1,081 4,975 22/47 14.8% Up
2004-05 941 4,334 22/49 8.1% Up
2003-04 808 4,008 24/53 6.3% Up
2002-03 805 3,769 25/52 10.7% Up
2001-02 798 3,405 24/48 12.3% Up
2000-01 896 3,032 26/53 22.6% up
1999-2000 734 2,474 24/43 4.8% Up
1998-99 661 2,361 25/43 23.8% Up
1997-98 619 1,907 24/44 17.1% Up
1996-97 217 1,629 24/44 39.9% Up
1995-96 225 1,164 24/44 44.8% Up
1994-95 249 804 23/43 2.7% Up
1993-94 220 783 25/43 93.8% Up
1992-93 50 404 25/38 84.5% Up
1991-92 50 219 27/38 65.9% Up
1990-91 21 132 29/38 17.9% Up
1989-90 101 112 31/38 45.1% Down
1988-89 25 204 27/38 64.5% Up
1987-88 Undetermined 124 29/37 588.9% Up
1986-87 16 18 31/37 1,700% Up
1985-86 1 1 30/37 83% Down
1984-85 3 6 33/37
1983-84 0 0 100% Down
1982-83 Undetermined 8 31/37
1981-82 0 0
1980-81 0 0 100% Down
1979-80 3 48 32/41

Statewide Participation

I have also included numbers for California below. Figuring out the growth of the sport in California is a bit more difficult as it seems CIF tended to report updated data only every two years (between 1987 and 1991 it used the same numbers every year). Fortunately, that changed with the 2010-11 season. CIF has been reporting updated numbers every year since then.

Some interesting facts:

  • In the last ten years, girls high school has had a 254.05% growth in the number of participants.
  • California has accounted for over 20% of high school wrestler-girls in the United States each year since the 1998-99 season (and in all likelihood since the 1993-94 season, if we assume the missing data gives us similar numbers).
High School Girls Wrestling California Participation Numbers
Academic Year # of Schools # of Participants % Up/Down (Participants)
vs. previous year
% CA Contributed
to The National Total
2017-18 740 5,286 17.3% Up 31.9%
2016-17 654 4,505 9.7% Up 30.8%
2015-16 645 4,104 49.4% Up 30.4%
2014-15 523 2,747 20.2% Up 23.9%
2013-14 493 2,286 8.9% Up 23.1%
2012-13 472 2,099 4.5% Up 24.1%
2011-12 474 2,008 5.1% Up 24.4%
2010-11 408 1,910 27.9% Up 26%
2009-10 227 1,493 24.3%
2008-09 227 1,493 30.7% Up 24.8%
2007-08 366 1,142 20.7%
2006-07 366 1,142 7.2% Down 22.6%
2005-06 322 1,230 24.7%
2004-05 322 1,230 28.5% up 28.4%
2003-04 269 957 23.9%
2002-03 269 957 27.3% Up 25.4%
2001-02 281 752 22.1%
2000-01 281 752 46.3% Up 24.8%
1999-2000 212 514 0.4% Up 20.8%
1998-99 210 494 Can’t Determine 25.9%
1997-98 Not Found Not Found Can’t Determine Can’t Determine
1996-97 Not Found Not Found Can’t Determine Can’t Determine
1995-96 Undetermined 541 140.4% Up 46.5%
1994-95 112 225 28%
1993-94 112 225 316.7% Up 28.7%
1992-93 Undetermined 54 13.4%
1991-92 Undetermined 54 63.6% Up 24.7%
1990-91 Undetermined 33 25%
1989-90 Undetermined 33 29.5%
1988-89 Undetermined 33 16.2%
1987-88 Undetermined 33 230% Up 26.6%
1986-87 9 10 56%
1985-86 0 0 100% Down 0%
1984-85 1 1 17%
1983-84 0 0 100% Down
1982-83 Undetermined 6 75%
1981-82 0 0
1980-81 0 0
1979-80 0 0 0%

2 thoughts on “High School Girls Wrestling Participation Numbers”

    1. Thank you for your pioneering spirit. It’s because of women like you that girls are able to step on the mat today.

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