John's Journal: The Final Stretch Run For The Overgaauw Twins
Murray County Central’s Two-Sport Stars Will Leave A Lasting Legacy
Posted: Sunday, May 21, 2023 - 3:20 PM
At Thursday’s Red Rock Conference track and field championships on the Murray County Central track in Slayton, Amanda and Ashley Overgaauw did exactly what they are famous for. They outran everyone.
The senior twins from Murray County Central took part in five events and won all five. Ashley won the 800 and 1,600 meters, Amanda won the 3,200 meters, they both were part of the winning 4x400 relay team and Amanda ran on the championship 4x800 team.
They run and they win, and that’s been the theme for years, during the fall cross-country season and on the track in the spring ever since they were in seventh grade. It’s a rare category, but the Overgaauws may be the top pair of twins in Minnesota high school running history.
“They're going to run with everything they have. That shows every time they run,” said Dominick Damm, who coaches the Murray County Central girls and boys cross-country teams and the girls track team.
The twins' final conference championship meet marked another point in a series of career-wrapping high school competitions. Next is a subsection meet in Pipestone on Friday, the Section 3A finals in Montevideo on June 1 and the state track meet June 8-10 at St. Michael-Albertville High School.
After that, the twins will become college cross-country and track athletes at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D., which is 80 miles from Slayton.
“I'm excited to take the next step after high school, to compete collegiately,” Ashley said. “That'll be so much fun and see how I can improve and how much I can bring my times down and have fun.”
For the next few weeks, however, they will be working hard in the hopes of winning state titles. Their list of accomplishments is already lengthy …
The twins made their Class A state cross-country debut as ninth-graders in 2019, placing 51st (Ashley) and 53rd (Amanda); teammate Morgan Gehl, a then-junior, placed second. After the pandemic wiped out the 2020 state cross-country meet, Amanda won the state title in 2021 and Ashley was sixth. In 2022 Amanda and Ashley finished second and third behind Jade Rypkema of Nevis.
On the track, Amanda finished third in the 3,200 meters at state in 2021 and both twins were part of the Rebels’ fifth-place 4x800 relay team.
At last year’s state track meet, Amanda was second behind Rypkema in the 3,200 and Amanda and Ashley were members of Murray County Central’s runner-up 4x800 unit.
Asked about their personal goals for the remainder of this season, Amanda said she looks forward to a final high school meeting with Rypkema (who will run collegiately at Gonzaga).
“I would love to finish high in the two-mile again, I'd love to get first or second. I'd have to race Jade, which will be a fun battle. We're thinking I might do the open 800 this year and possibly try to get a state championship in that.”
Ashley said she also may compete in the 800.
“I'm thinking for the mile I've been trying to bring my time down, and under five flat would be really cool. And then I'm thinking about doing the 800.”
If they both compete in the 800 in the postseason, it would be fitting to see them running side by side for high stakes. They have done so many times, especially in cross-country, and they had some sisterly fun this spring during a meet in Windom.
Running the 800 together, they decided beforehand that they would absolutely run together. In fact, they wanted to finish in a dead heat.
“We decided just to do it for fun and see if we could tie, and we were only .01 apart. Ashley won with a lean,” Amanda said. “That was a really fun race. We played rock-paper-scissors down the homestretch. It was an awesome memory.”
Damm said the Overgaauw sisters have shown growth and maturity over the years, beginning when they joined the cross-country and track teams as seventh-graders.
“How different are they now? Well, in the first year I don't think they talked,” Damm said. “They don't say much now, but they've been kind of thrust into the spotlight and people talk to them so they talk back. They're much more outgoing. A great thing about a sport like this is how it's changed their personalities, talking with people all the time. They've been hard workers their entire careers. They've never been rah-rah-type teammates, but they've been just like, ‘All right, that's next. We'll do that.’ ”
The twins are known for their work ethic, something that has carried over to the rest of the team over the years, and not just female athletes.
“They definitely have instilled a culture,” Damm said. “What they do has crossed over from the girls to the boys team. My boys cross-country team spent a bunch of time trying to beat the girls. That was a practice goal, “We're gonna beat the twins today. We're gonna beat the twins in this run.’ That just kind of trickles down. And now, next year I think we’re going to have a really good boys team because of it.”
In September 2020, as several small meets were held during the regular season, Murray County Central hosted teams from Heron Lake-Okabena and Southwest Minnesota Christian/Edgerton at Slayton Country Club. The fact that there was no state meet was tough to swallow for the Rebels, because Gehl was a senior that year who hoped to repeat as the 1A cross-country champion. The Rebels were also coming off a fourth-place team finish at state, with every runner returning, including the Overgaauws.
The top three female runners that day on the golf course were named Overgaauw, Overgaauw and Gehl (who was working through an injury). The twins were sophomores then, and after the race Gehl made a statement that could come true this season, more than three years later.
“Their work ethic is super,” Morgan said of Amanda and Ashley. “And they're really super nice, they're great people. And I hope they get to go to state one year and hopefully finish one and two.”
--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at email@example.com