Overgaauw sisters preparing for the next step
Amanda and Ashley Overgaauw were among Minnesota's best at high school distance running, and now they're taking their talents to Augustana
SLAYTON — Senior twins Amanda and Ashley Overgaauw will be long remembered at Murray County Central for their running prowess.
And for several other admirable attributes.
“The twins are both very kind and very inspirational,” said Sophia Nelson, a classmate and teammate. “They always do their best every day at practice. And they’re always very nice and considerate to everybody.
“I would never say a negative thing about them. Ever.”
High school followers in southwest Minnesota know all about the Overgaauw sisters’ positive effect on the cross country scene. Amanda won a Class A state championship in 2021 and finished second at the big meet in Northfield earlier this month. Ashley was third at the state meet.
The twins have decided to continue their running careers together in Sioux Falls at Augustana (S.D.) University, where they will join the fine NCAA Division II program of coach Tracy Hellman.
Both sisters have for years been fantastic runners for the MCC/Fulda program of coach Dominick Damm.
“They really are,” Damm said. “They’re not too vocal, but they are leaders by example and show you how it’s done. They’ve always showed what hard work will do.”
Amanda reeled off 10 straight victories this fall before finishing second at the state meet. She has an excellent personal-best 5K time of 17:48.97.
Ashley, who was the region’s best prep cross country runner in 2020 and has dealt with a nagging hip injury for over a year, finished second to her sister eight times in 11 outings this fall.
The girls are also superb students, and will leave MCC as record-holders in several cross country and track categories. While exceptionally fast, both as runners and learners, they are slow to congratulate themselves.
Indeed, the slender seniors have been humble champions.
“They definitely want and like to win,” Damm said. “But they’ll never let you know beforehand. They’re exceptional athletes, both of them.”
The girls, who live on a farm north of Lake Wilson and are involved in 4-H, raising llamas and alpacas, were heavily recruited the last few years.
“I received many, many phone calls. They had lots of options, for sure,” said Damm, a former Heron Lake-Okabena High and Dakota State University standout runner. “I know coach Hellman and he’s a really good coach and a good guy.”
Hellman, whose Augie program is nationally ranked and recently won a second straight Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship, said he’s looking forward to coaching the swift seniors — and not just because of their athleticism.
“During the recruitment process, I was impressed with them as high-character, outstanding young ladies,” Hellman said. “They are the whole package: great students, great runners and great people.”
Amanda smiled softly when asked about the recruiting process.
“I like the fact it’s close to home and I had a good feeling when meeting the team,” she said. “It will be a great opportunity to go there.”
Ashley considered different schools. But in the end, the girls will stay together.
“We’re really close,” Ashley smiles. “I think this is a better fit.”
Was it truly possible they could choose different colleges?
“We could have,” Ashley said. Then she paused and smiled.
“But it would have been really hard.”
The girls are in many of the same classes and rarely separated at school. Three years ago, before Ashley was hurt, they ran together far ahead of the pack in most races before sprinting to the finish line — with Ashley often winning. This fall, Amanda typically surged to a big lead early on and left the rest of the pack far behind.
The goal in college?
“I want to push myself to be the best I can be and help my team as much as I can,” Amanda said.
That’s exactly what the terrific twins have been doing for the Murray County Central/Fulda cross country and track teams the last few years.
“We are all very proud and happy that they have been on our team,” Nelson said.