Class of 2012
Don Mekeel graduated from Dixon High School in 1971. In 1971 he was the wrestling team captain, an NCIC Conference champion, and sectional qualifier in the 132-pound weight class. He was coached by Wayne Morse and Ron Semetis.
After high school, Don earned a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University. Don wrestled four years earning 2 varsity letters for the Division I Illinois State Redbirds. His college coach was another IWCOA Hall of Famer, Dr. Robert Koehler.
Don began teaching at Rock Falls High School and then went to Sterling High School in 1976 as a Driver’s Education teacher. While at Sterling, he coached wrestling, cross country, and track. While coaching girls' cross country, his 1980 team finished 11th at the IHSA State Cross Country meet and the 1981 team placed 5th. Don coached wrestling at Sterling for nine years, from 1994-2003.
During his tenure, the Sterling Golden Warriors wrestling teams had 140 wins. The 2002 team advanced to the Elite 8 and at that time was the only Sterling team ever to qualify for the IHSA State Dual Team Tournament. His 2002 team won a Sterling High School record 24 dual meets as well as Championships at the Carson DeJarnatt Invite, NCIC Conference, IHSA Regional and Sectional. His 2003 team set another school record with 25 wins along with winning the Rex Whitlatch Tournament in Hinsdale and the NCIC Conference, IHSA Regional. During this time, he coached 18 NCIC Champions, 14 IHSA state qualifiers, 3 state place-winners and ten wrestlers with 100 or more wins. Don was nominated by the IWCOA for Coach of the Year in 2002 and was chosen by Sauk Valley Newspapers as wrestling Coach of the Year three times.
For nine years Don coached the Sauk Valley Freestyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling Club and produced several state champions and 4 All-Americans at the AAU Grand Nationals. He has supervised the Sterling Unit 5 Matmen youth wrestling program and directed the “All-American Wrestling Camp” bringing nearly 50 Division I All-American wrestlers to the Sterling area to instruct young wrestlers. He has also established the Sterling Wrestling Club which has awarded over $50,000 in scholarships and financial aid to wrestlers. Don was inducted into the Sterling High School Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.
In addition to his coaching, Don has been a wrestling official for 44 years. He has been teaching new official classes the past 15 years and has recruited nearly 100 new wrestling officials in that time. He has had the honor of officiating the IHSA Individual State and Dual
Team State tournaments 19 times. Don was voted IWCOA Official of the Year in 2014 and he was named IHSA Official on the Year in 2016. Don currently serves on the IWCOA executive board as its President. Don was inducted into the IWCOA Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2019 he was honored as one of the Grand Marshal’s at the IHSA Individual State Tournament.
Don currently resides in Sterling with his wife, Diane. He has two sons, Ryan and Christopher, two daughters, Allison and Leslie, 2 grandsons Emmett and Miles and another grandchild expected this summer 2019.