The overall number of participants in high school sports increased for the 28th consecutive year in 2016-17, according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The number of participants in high school athletics reached an all-time high of 7,963,535. The increase of 94,635 participants from 2015-16 is the largest one-year jump in overall participation since the 2008-09 school year, the NFHS said in a news release Tuesday.

The survey is based on figures obtained from the 51 NFHS member state high school associations, which includes the District of Columbia.

The number of girls participants reached an all-time high of 3,400,297. The increase of 75,971 from the previous year is the largest one-year jump since the 2000-01 sports participation report, the NFHS said.

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities.

The NFHS said participation in 11-player football was down 25,901 from the previous year, but the numbers in 6- and 8-player football increased from the 2015-16 season.

The number of schools offering football increased by 52 schools in 11-player – from 14,047 to 14,099.

“While we are concerned when any sport experiences a decline in participation, the numbers do not substantiate that schools are dropping the sport of football,” said NFHS Executive Director Bob Gardner. “The NFHS and its member state high school associations have worked hard to reduce the risk of injury in high school football, and we are pleased at the continued strength of the sport across the country.”

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The Pacific Union College men’s basketball team, the defending California Pacific Conference champion which reached the NAIA Division II National Championship tournament for the first time in school history, begins the 2017-18 season on Oct. 26 with a nonconference game at William Jessup University in Rocklin.

The Pioneers will play exhibition games against Humboldt State (Nov. 13), San Francisco State (Nov. 25), and Cal State East Bay (Dec. 19).

After being picked to finish sixth in the CalPac coaches preseason poll, the Pioneers put together their greatest season in school history.

Coach Greg Rahn’s Pioneers (18-7 overall, 11-4 CalPac) beat host Cal State Maritime, 71-70, in the conference championship game on Feb. 28 in Vallejo. It was Rae Hubbard, a junior off guard and a transfer from Napa Valley College, who hit the game-winning shot for Pacific Union, giving the Pioneers their first CalPac title.

The win advanced Pacific Union, a small Seventh-day Adventist school founded in 1882 and offering just three men’s sports and three women’s sports, to the NAIA Division II National Championship in Point Lookout, Missouri. They lost in the first round to top-seeded Cornerstone University (Michigan).

Email Napa Valley Register Executive Sports Editor Marty James at mjames@napanews.com, follow him on Twitter at @marty_nvr, or call 256-2223.

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