Since Lakeville High School split into two schools in 2005, Lakeville North and Lakeville South have been natural rivals. With kids growing up together and training in the same youth programs, the two wrestling teams add to the community rivalry. In 1997, Paul Donner started working with Lakeville wrestling. Over the years, he held coaching jobs at both Lakeville North and South. Eventually, Donner took the head job at North. He was the Lakeville North head coach up until four years ago when he decided to retire from coaching. Two years later, Donner was asked to come back – as the head coach at Lakeville South.
“I didn’t know how the kids would react,” Donner admitted. “When you have such a rivalry between two schools, you can’t even imagine putting a shirt on of the other school.”
Long before he switched school districts, Donner grew up in Clarkfield, Minnesota. He had success in wrestling right away.
“I started wrestling in fourth grade,” Donner said. “Canby was the team down there at the time. If you beat a Canby kid, you knew you were pretty good. I ended up winning Nationals in fifth grade when it was AAU.”
Wrestling wasn’t a foregone conclusion for a young Donner.