Sitting at a picnic table just off the Columbus North High School track, the twin Krempels looked each other in the eyes and laughed.
No, it wasn’t like looking into a mirror.
Fraternal twins, they insist they don’t look a whole lot alike.
“I tell everybody two eggs,” said Tessa Krempel, the talented North junior who holds the school record in the discus at 128 feet, 6½ inches.
SCHOOL: Columbus North
BEST THROWS: Discus, 128, 6½; shot put 37, 4½
SCHOOL: Columbus North
HEIGHT: 5 -foot-8
BEST THROWS: Discus, 110; shot put 33, 2½
Again, both sisters laughed.
“The only thing the same is our brown eyes,” said Mara Krempel, who at 5-foot-8 is an inch-and-a-half taller. “But, really, I have more green in mine.”
While they aren’t identical, they are attached in their drive for athletic success.
Both Bull Dogs are making huge strides to join the state’s top throwers when it comes to the shot put and discus. That’s interesting because they are more piano wire than the bulk associated with tossing metal long distances.
“We have the body type for both the shot put and discus,” Tessa said. “We’re not huge, but we’re powerful. We’re explosive, but we’re lean.”
On Friday, they established the pecking order when it comes to possible sectional championships. Tessa won both the shot put (37-4½) and the discus (124-10) in the dual meet against Columbus East at Columbus North High School while East’s Sarah Loesch finish second in both the shot (36-10½) and discus (112-2). Mara was third in the shot (33-2½) and discus (103-5).
Loesch is the defending sectional champ in the discus and was second in the shot. The Olympian junior will have her hands full this season with the Krempels, who visited a training camp for potential Olympics throwers over spring break in Chula Vista, Calif., and apparently learned a lot. Former UCLA head coach Art Venegas gave them some tips that had an immediate impact.
The Krempels have a lot of respect for the 6-foot-3 Loesch and they know it will take a lot of work to displace her as sectional champ.
“Six-foot-three,” Tessa said, shaking her head from side-to-side. “She is so lucky.”
If Tessa doesn’t have the natural height, she makes the most of her build. When it comes to strength, Tessa has the edge over her sister, along with every other girl at North.
“I’m the strongest girl in the school, by far,” Tessa said. “I like that I squat 290.”
About every time Tessa would quote a number, she would look at her sister for confirmation. They would discuss it quickly, laugh a bit, and then give matching nods.
Usually, Tessa would deliver the final verdict.
“I’ve always been more aggressive,” Tessa said. “My mom would call me ‘The Ox.’ But it wasn’t just because of my body, it was my head. I was stubborn.”
Mara looked at her sister, and they nodded.
“I’ve been more of the elegant model,” Mara said.
It would seem that might be changing a bit in the future. Although Tessa had been the better track athlete, Mara said she has “started to figure it out.”
“I know if I want to excel,” I have to work hard,” she said.
Although Mara has made great strides since her sophomore year (an increase of 13 feet in the discus and more than two feet in the shot), Tessa has increased similar distances.
“I know I’m catching up,” said Mara, who shot a look at her sister, who put together a “yeah, right,” expression.
Both were introduced to the events by their dad, Lou, who was a field athlete in high school and college. He still coaches both along with North boys coach Lou Sipe.
Their older brother Matt Krempel, who is a starting offensive lineman for Northern Illinois and who still holds the North shot put record of 57-5, said all members of the Krempel family are athletic, and he notes that he was a late bloomer so Mara has every right to catch up to her sister.
“I was like that going into my junior year,” he said. “I felt like I wasn’t achieving enough, living up to expectations. Then I blossomed. Mara really has better technique Tessa, who is like me in that she can just rely on her strength at times. Mara can catch up.”
If they get even in the throwing events, it will be one of the few ways they are even.
“They are about as polar opposite as you can get,” Matt said. “Mara is quiet and meticulous. Tessa is loud, and really, really outgoing.”
One thing they did share was the fact that neither was all that hot about throwing iron in high school.
“I thought it was for big, bulky women,” Tessa said. “It’s not a feminine sport. We’re also in volleyball. That’s a feminine sport.”
She found out that there was much more to throwing than muscle. “The throwing events are so technical,” Tessa said. “You need to be mature.”
But muscle is part of it.
“My goal is to be strong, but lean and still have a figure,” Tessa said. “I don’t care about my weight as a number. I look at what I see in the mirror and I like it. Do I like my shot put and discus numbers? I do like that, too.”
North girls track coach Steve Tyler said the sky is the limit for both. “It’s been great to watch their development,” he said. “They’ve worked hard since the time they walked into Columbus North. They are starting to reap the benefits. To throw the distances they are throwing, it’s not something you can walk in and do. They are driven to perform at a high level.”
The work for both continues. Mara is gaining muscle as she attempts to catch her sister.
“People say, ‘Your Tessa’s sister,’” she said. “Yeah, I let them have their fun with it. There’s only one first-place winner.”
Tessa continues to work hard to earn those first-place finishes. It can be tough at times. She hasn’t beaten her best shot put effort of last season yet.
“I’ve broken down many times,” Tessa said. “It can be really disappointing. I think I am getting ahead of myself mentally. I’ve gotten stronger, I know the technique.”
Fortunately, she has her sister in her corner.
“We’re best friends,” Tessa said.
She didn’t need to look at Mara to acknowledge that one.