Don Mekeel

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 IWCOA Hall of Famers Wayne Morse and Ron Semetis.

After high school, Don earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Illinois State University and a Masters 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 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 wrestling teams had 140 wins. The 2002 team advanced to the Elite 8 and is the only Sterling team 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, and 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 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 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 $25,000 in scholarships and financial aid to wrestlers.

In addition to his coaching, Don has been a wrestling official for 37 years. He has been teaching officiating clinics the past 8 years and has recruited 45 new wrestling officials in that time. He has had the honor of officiating the IHSA Individual State tournament 4 times and the Dual Team State Championships six times. He served as the Head Official at the 2012 IHSA Dual Team State Tournament. He has officiated the IKWF State Championships 4 times. Don is an IHSA Official Clinician, rules interpreter and he serves on the IWCOA advisory board. He is also NCAA certified and has officiated the Midlands Tournament at Northwestern University 3 times.

Don currently resides in Sterling with his wife, Diane. He has two sons, Ryan and Christopher, and two daughters, Allison and Leslie. Don retired from teaching in 2008.