Overgaauw twins add amazing depth to MCC/F cross country
SLAYTON — The Murray County Central/Fulda cross country team has for years featured one of the state’s premier female runners.
These days the Warriors have three of them.
Coach Dominick Damm’s MCC/Fulda girls, led by spectacular twins Ashley and Amanda Overgaauw and dominant defending state champion Morgan Gehl, turned in another impressive performance here Thursday in a triangular meet at the Slayton Country Club course.
Ashley and Amanda, superb slender sophomores who have emerged this fall as rare rivals to Gehl, finished first and second, respectively, as the Warriors easily defeated girls’ teams from Southwest Minnesota Christian and Heron Lake-Okabena.
There was plenty of drama in the boys’ race, won by Heron Lake-Okabena’s Tim Salentiny, as the MCC/Fulda team prevailed on a cool, breezy afternoon. The Warriors won with 29 points, while HL-O scored 46 and Southwest Christian finished with 58
Salentiny is just a freshman, but he ran like a veteran on the hilly course at Slayton CC.
“I did a lot better than last week, at least a minute faster,” said Salentiny, who finished the 3.1-mile course in 18:10 “It was just a perfect day for running.”
Isaiah Kathman of MCC/Fulda finished runner-up, and teammate Carter Benda was fourth. Paul Salentiny of HL-O was third and Southwest Christian’s Jaden Barren was fifth.
Tim Salentiny did not qualify for the state meet last year, and he’d like to change that this fall.
“I’ve always wanted to go to state,” said the freshman. “Last year I was kind of close but under-performed at the section meet.”
The MCC/Fulda boys’ squad also received top-10 performances from Evan Bumgardner (6th), Caleb Appel (8th), Dylan Kramer (9th) and Tanner Graphenteen (10th).
“We’ve got a decent boys’ team,” said Damm, who coaches both Warrior teams. “A couple of football kids joined us. They wanted to be in a sport and our football coaches told them to go for it.”
He said it’s been a gratifying season so far.
“I’ve got the biggest team I’ve ever had, with 50 kids in the boys and girls combined,” Damm said. “It’s a good thing.”
The MCC/Fulda girls certainly have a good thing going. The squad has plenty of talent and depth.
“That’s a heckuva problem to have, with basically nine or 10 girls who would have made every varsity team I’ve ever had,” said Damm, a Heron Lake-Okabena/Lakefield graduate with two decades of head coaching experience, the last 18 years at MCC. “They’re really, really tough.”
Led by the amazing Overgaauw twins and the decorated Gehl, who last year became the first female cross country state champion in MCC or Fulda history, the Warriors are swiftly making names for themselves.
“Morgan is just as fast as she ever was, and the twins have put in a lot of work to make up as much time as they have,” Damm said of the sisters from a Lake Wilson farm family. “They really did a phenomenal job.”
Amanda and Ashley ran side-by-side through much of the 3.1-mile course. Ashley had the better kick down the stretch to win by a stride. Both finished with times of 18:12.
“We run together but we don’t talk at all during a race,” Amanda said.
They were too busy for much discussion all summer long.
“Over the summer we ran 15 miles a day to train for this,” Ashley said. “Even though we didn’t know if we were going to have a season or not, we tried to work our hardest so we could do our best.”
That diligence has paid off. Thursday’s was the second straight meet with Ashley and Amanda finishing 1-2 ahead of Gehl, who clocked 18:36.
“Ever since we started cross country we’ve always looked up to her,” Ashley said. “She’s a role model for us.”
Ashley finished 50th at the state meet last November; Amber finished 52nd. There has never been a state champion cross country team in either MCC or Fulda history.
Might a state team title be possible this year for the Warrior girls?
“I think it could be,” Ashley said. “If we have a state meet.”
For MCC/Fulda, Josie Harms (4th), Victoria Pierson (6th), Brylei Schreier (7th) and Abby Loosbrock (8th) sparkled. Mikayla Johnson of Southwest Christian led her team with a fifth-place effort.
The Warrior girls won the team race, 16-47.