State wrestling notebook: Chamberlain's John Donovan honored for 25 years of coaching

Inside: The national standard for girls weight classes will grow to at least 12 in South Dakota next season

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Chamberlain wrestling coach John Donovan looks on during a match on the opening day of the South Dakota state high school wrestling tournament on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023 at Summit Arena in Rapid City.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

RAPID CITY — Chamberlain High School wrestling coach John Donovan was honored Friday for 25 years of coaching high school wrestling at the South Dakota state tournament at Summit Arena.

Donovan, a 1987 Chamberlain alum, has coached the Cubs for nearly 20 years. Entering the 2023 state tournament, Donovan has coached 174 state qualifiers, 80 state placewinners and 14 state champions, including his own son Max in 2018. All four of Donovan’s children have been involved with the Chamberlain wrestling program as athletes or statisticians. He was the state’s wrestling coach of the year in 2000 and 2020.

His coaching career started while he was attending Black Hills State to earn an elementary education degree, coaching AAU wrestling in Spearfish. Donovan was also head wrestling coach at Harding County from 1995 to 2004.

Eight added to SDWCA hall of fame

Eight new members of the South Dakota Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame were recognized on Friday night at the state tournament in Rapid City.

Among them includes David Crabtree, who wrestled at Winner and Todd County, winning two state titles for Todd County at 95 pounds in 1969 and at 112 pounds in 1971. Crabtree went on to wrestle at South Dakota State and participated in the U.S. Olympic Trials process. Crabtree now lives in Los Angeles.


The rest of the hall of fame includes former Philip Area coach Matt Donnelly; former coach and official Gene Hensley, of Rapid City; former Philip wrestler Billy Konst, of Fort Pierre; former Rapid City Central state champions Dave Gorsuch, Rick Drury and Rodney Drury; and former Miller and South Dakota State wrestler Chad Forman.

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Canistota's Lily Montgomery faces off with Pierre's Ireland Templeton during a first-round match in the girls 170-pound division of the South Dakota state high school wrestling tournament on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023 at The Monument in Rapid City.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

Number of girls weight classes set to grow

The third season of sanctioned high school wrestling in South Dakota went in the books on Friday, with 152 wrestlers competing for 10 state titles. It’s a slight increase of nearly 8% over 2022’s total of 141 wrestlers and shows the progress from the 91 girls who competed in the first sanctioned meet in 2021. Eight of the 10 classes for the 2023 meet were full, 16-girl brackets, until a forfeit moved the 154-pound division to 15 wrestlers.

In 2024, it’s expected participation at the state meet will climb, but because the National Federation of State High School Associations, or NFHS, is creating common weight class options and allowing states to decide how many classes of competition to offer.

The options are the following for girls classes, starting with the 2023-24 season:

  • 12 weight classes: 100, 107, 114, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 165, 185, 235.
  • 13 weight classes: 100, 106, 112, 118, 124, 130, 136, 142, 148, 155, 170, 190, 235.
  • 14 weight classes: 100, 105, 110, 115, 120, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 155, 170, 190, 235.

Most notable among those changes will be the lowering of the weight limit in the heaviest class from 285 down to 235.
It will be the first time that separate weight classes have been established nationally for girls in high school wrestling, and it marks the first time that state associations will have a choice in the number of weight classes, according to the NFHS. The national standard comes because more states are sanctioning girls wrestling.

The same will need to be done on the boys side, with the 12, 13 and 14 division options being made there, as well. Here are the boys options:

  • 12 weight classes: 108, 116, 124, 131, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 190, 215, 285
  • 13 weight classes: 107, 114, 121, 127, 133, 139, 145, 152, 160, 172, 189, 215, 285
  • 14 weight classes: 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 144, 150, 157, 165, 175, 190, 215, 285

The South Dakota High School Activities Association’s wrestling advisory committee meets on Monday, Feb. 27, and likely will forward recommendations to the SDHSAA Board of Directors about how many classes to offer.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at
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