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Athletic participation remains high at FHS

Participation in Farmington High School's fall sports programs stayed virtually the same as last year's, according to a recent release from the school's athletic department.

The total number of student-athletes reached an all-time high of 877 this fall, a number that includes 27 additional sixth-graders who for the first time were allowed to practice as part of the boys and girls cross country, girls swimming and diving and girls tennis teams. Last year, 844 students participated in fall sports, up from 818 in 2005 and 697 in '05, when new athletic director Jon Summer first began tracking such data.

"You can see over the four-year time frame that we've gotten much bigger. A lot of that can be attributed to the bigger class sizes we see each year," Summer said. "But some credit also has to be given to the coaches out there trying to get people out. But we're not satisfied. There are still several fall programs we need to continue to work at."

One of those programs is girls cross country, which drew just 24 students this fall. Summer said the opportunities offered to female athletes from volleyball (119 students), swimming and diving (83) and girls soccer (122) make it a challenge to increase participation.

"Those sports get tremendous numbers. That's one of the hurdles that confronts sports like cross country and tennis," Summer said. "Our challenge is to go out and find kids and encourage them to get involved."

On the boys side, fall participation was once again bolstered by 312 football players in grades seven through 12. Boys soccer continued to hold strong at 69 students and boys cross country drew 64 students.

The fall sports season, thanks largely to football, has the largest participation number of the three seasons. Just over 600 students participated in Farmington High School sports last spring (188 in track and field, 150 in baseball), while 482 were involved in winter sports (107 in boys basketball, 66 in girls basketball).

"Overall, I think we have very good participation numbers," Summer said. "That being said, there are individual sports we need to continue to focus on to improve our numbers in the fall, winter and spring."

Farmington is the 52nd largest school in the state of Minnesota, according to the latest Minnesota State High School League classification figures, with 1,436 students in grades 9 through 12.