Cross country twins keep pace at Oshkosh

Michael Johrendt

“A year ago, Breanna and Amanda Van Den Plas were running at Kewaunee High School, which was made up of roughly 400 students, and they are now on the cross country team at UW Oshkosh.

Ever since Amanda and Breanna started running, the competitive drive has been there for each other. The bond has given the twins a reason to keep running.

Middle school is where both of their running careers began. However, high school was when the duo started showing their potential.

Amanda and Breanna capped off their final years of high school with appearances in the WIAA State Cross Country Championship meet.

Even with this being their first years both Amanda and Breanna have acclimated to the nature of the cross country team very quickly, and they said the quick assimilation has begun with Coach Eamon McKenna.

“[McKenna] was one of the very first people that we met,” Breanna said. “We met some teammates, and a big reason why I chose Oshkosh was because of him. Having a good coach was something that I really wanted to have.”

Amanda had better results throughout high school, including a ninth-place finish at the WIAA Division 3 Sectional 8 race to qualify for the State Championship. Finishing in 52nd place, she was able to go out on a strong note for her high school career in 5,000-meter races.

According to her sister Breanna, Amanda’s performance is motivation for her to do better too.

“Because she is faster than me, it always motivates me to keep with her at practice,” Breanna said. “It is just that I have to take it into the race and try and stick with her.”

During her senior year, Breanna had four top-30 finishes in the year, highlighted with a ninth-place tally in the 5,000m De Pere Invite. She, like her sister, qualified for the WIAC State Championship race by having a strong finish in the Division 3 Sectional 8 qualifier race.

Both Breanna and Amanda ran in ten 5,000-meter events during the 2015 season, which again helped show their consistency. For the sisters to begin their running careers, Amanda said they decided to look within their family for the source of inspiration.

“My dad was basically the big motivator to get into long distance [running],” Amanda said.

Breanna said their dad has experience in long distance running.

“My dad ran marathons and half marathons, so he took us to a cross country meet our sophomore year,” Breanna added. “Just watching him motivates us to keep going.”

Both Amanda and Breanna have ran in the Midwest Open and the Hoffman Invite, while Amanda ran in the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota while helping contribute to Oshkosh’s win.
With the girls making up one-third of the new class of runners for the Titans, McKenna said he has nothing but praise for the twins’ impact on the team.

“They are competitive, disciplined and committed to putting in the work that is asked of them, and that has a positive impact on our team,” McKenna said. “Amanda is more of the distance runner while Breanna is more versatile on the track.”