A successful sister act
Twin Overgaauw sisters enjoy record-setting running careers at MCC
SLAYTON — Ashley and Amanda Overgaauw walk the halls together at Murray County Central High.
They eat lunch together. They go to and from class together. And the twins head to track practice together.
They also set records together.
“They’re my miracles,” says the girls’ mother Stacey, a Fulda native who along with her husband Jason operate a farm just north of Lake Wilson.
An amazing success story of MCC’s speedy sophomore siblings that began last fall on the cross country course has extended to the track this spring.
Last week in the Rebels’ second meet of the spring, Ashley broke the MCC school record in the 1,600, establishing a new mark of 5:20.29. Her twin Amanda broke the school’s 43-year-old 3,200 record the same day with a clocking of 11:16.69.
Amanda had set a record in the 1,600 the previous week, only to have Ashley top it. To have them both set school records the same day is truly remarkable.
“They’re good girls,” Stacey says. “I couldn’t be prouder. We’re very blessed.”
Doreen (Zinnel) Veenhuis established the latter record 3,200 when she was a freshman in 1978.
Veenhuis, whose husband Bob still holds track records at MCC, has always lived in her hometown of Slayton. She knows the twin’s mother, but didn’t meet the super sisters until last week.
“I’m happy to pass the baton to the girls,” says Doreen. “They really deserve it. I’ve been following them for the past couple of years, and I’m so happy it was one of them.”
Doreen placed third in the 3,200 at the state meet in 1978. Running on mostly cinder tracks in those days, the little sister of famed Slayton track and cross country champion Mark Zinnel qualified for numerous state meets. She ran on teams coached by highly successful former Slayton coach Dick Davidson.
Doreen also competed in volleyball in the fall, splitting her time between spiking balls on the courts and wearing spikes on the running course. She knows all about sibling success and the pressures it could produce.
“I never ran with Mark,” Doreen laughs when asked about her brother, who won state championships in cross country and track back in the day. “There was never any pressure on me because of what he did.”
Clearly, winning races was all in the family for the Zinnels. And so it is nearly 50 years later with the Overgaauws.
A love for running
Is record-setting the girls’ main goal?
“No,” Ashley says. “But running is my favorite sport. I love it. I’m really glad to be healthy again.”
The twins were invited to an elite cross country race in Atwater last year following the regular season, which didn’t include a state meet because of virus concerns. Ashley, who won the section race and finished 1-2 with her sister in all but one cross country race all year, was expected to do especially well.
But she was forced to drop out during the race.
“I don’t know what really happened,” Ashley said. “I got dehydrated. I was so worked up, really nervous. I didn’t want to let anybody down.”
No danger of that. The swift sisters have provided quite a lift for MCC sports fans.
Amanda hopes the best is yet to come. Perhaps, it was suggested, she might even beat her sister in a race someday.
“Maybe,” Amanda smiles. “I don’t know if I ever will, though.”
Two peas in a pod? Birds of a feather? Well, more like sister success stories.
“It’s great to see our hard work pay off,” says Amanda, referring to the extensive road work their training requires.
And make no mistake, they are each other’s top fans.
“I’m really close with her,” Amanda says. “I’d probably be lost without her.”
Says Ashley: “She’s my best friend.”
In fact Amanda felt lost in Atwater when suddenly Ashley dropped out of the race.
“That was scary,” Amanda says. “I didn’t know what to do. I hope it never happens again.”
The girls, who are coached by Dominick Damm, will be competing together on relays this spring as well as running the distance races.
“He’s a phenomenal coach,” Amanda says. “He knows how to help us improve.”
While cross country and track are considered individual sports, teamwork displayed by the Overgaauw twins is leading to uncommon accomplishment.
To be sure, the splendid sisters figure to be making headlines at MCC for years to come. And if so, they’ll be doing it together.