LODI, Wis. (AP) — Vincent Breunig admits being surprised when, in 1999, he and his wife, Melanie, learned their pregnancy would be twice the fun.
Their twin boys are now 17 years old, looking ahead to college at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and share a 2007 Ford Taurus that has logged more than 135,000 miles, was previously owned by their grandmother and, at this time of the year, gets them to and from basketball practice.
But these aren’t the only twins in the life of Vincent Breunig, the principal at Lodi High School.
The 140-student senior class, of which his sons, Casey Breunig and Carter Breunig are members, has nine sets of twins. The Breunig twins are the only set of brothers, while there are four sets of sisters and four sets of twins that are mixed.
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No one sees double anymore, there is little confusion as to who is who and the high number of twins is rarely talked about. It’s just the status quo here in southern Columbia County.
“It’s always felt normal,” Krysta Bornhofer told the Wisconsin State Journal . She who was born with her sister, Abby Bornhofer, on April 21, 2000, and graduated early at winter break. “I didn’t know it was out of the ordinary until it was made a big deal last year.”
That’s when, in spring of 2016, a Madison television station reported that the school’s track team had three sets of twins, including two pair of sophomores who are now part of the senior class of 2018.
For this school year, the school of about 500 students has 17 sets of twins. There are two in the freshman class, three sets in each of the sophomore and junior classes with nine in the senior class.
“It’s our biggest class in the district but that’s one of the reasons — we have nine sets of twins in it,” said Vincent Breunig, 48, who grew up in the town of Roxbury in northwestern Dane County and is in his eighth year as principal. “I just remember watching (the obstetrician) toggle back and forth and I could see the screen and going ‘there’s two there.’ It was exciting and nervous.”
Having twins is no longer uncommon.
According to Multiples of America, a nonprofit that provides education, research and networking for those with twins and other multiple births, the rate of twin births rose 76 percent from 1980 to 2011 and hit an all-time high in 2014 with a birthrate of 33.9 per 1,000 live births.
The rise in multiple birth rates, according to the organization, is associated with expanded use of fertility therapies and older maternal ages at childbearing because of elevated follicle-stimulating hormone levels.
Ryan Goethel and Paige Goethel were born on Aug. 29, 2000, and are heavily involved with school activities. Ryan Goethel was the starting left guard on the Blue Devil’s football team that won the WIAA Division 4 state championship in November and is part of the track and field team. Paige Goethel, a National Honor Society member, played volleyball this past fall and will again play softball this spring.
In September, the Goethel twins and all but one student from the nine sets of twins sat in the bleachers at the school’s football field for a photo after a parent requested their picture be taken. The idea was to compare it with a photo taken when six of the sets of twins entered kindergarten in 2005 and posed together on the play structure at Lodi Primary School.
As a follow up to this fall’s photo, and with three more sets of twins added to the mix, Vince Breunig contacted the Wisconsin State Journal in early December pitching the story of the high number of twins in his school. But while Breunig and most others outside the school may think it’s a neat story, those involved would have likely rather been anywhere else instead of in a lecture hall being forced to answer lame questions from a nosy reporter.
“It feels like you’re making it a big deal,” said Ryan Goethel, who sports a beard and a mop of blond hair. “It’s normal to me.”
“It seems so normal that this seems way out of proportion to me,” his sister, Paige Goethel, added.
Bailey Leckwee and Riley Leckwee were born on June 9, 2000. They both are part of the track team where Bailey Leckwee does long jump and Riley Leckwee the triple jump. They also had part-time jobs last semester in Madison, Bailey Leckwee at Noodles & Co. and Riley Leckwee at Panera Bread Co.
“Only when it’s the two of us we’re competitive (against each other) but when it’s a big group we really try to encourage each other,” said Riley Leckwee, who plans to attend Marquette University to study dentistry.
Bailey Leckwee wants to be a veterinarian and specialize in large animals or exotics like snakes and lizards. Like her sister, she enjoyed being a twin and the experience of a rural high school.
“Everybody knows each other and it’s nice to have a sense of community,” Bailey Leckwee said. “Sometimes I forget I’m a twin, honestly.”
Lodi is a community of just over 3,000 people known for the Lodi Fair and Susie the Duck. It’s also home to Slack’s Jams & Jellies, Lodi Sausage Co. in the city’s downtown, and Lodi Canning Co., a family-owned business that in June and July cans fresh peas and in August and September switches to cream-style sweet corn.
Located about 25 miles north of Madison where highways 60 and 113 meet, the community isn’t a suburb but more of a commuter village that swells in the summer thanks to nearby Lake Wisconsin. In the past 23 years the district of what is now 1,589 students has opened a new middle school and a high school and is building a $21 million primary school scheduled to open for the 2018-19 school year.
Jessica Wideman and Jennifer Wideman were born May 20, 2000. Jessica is considering Madison Area Technical College next fall, while Jennifer is leaning toward the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They are both third-degree black belts and compete nationally thanks, in part, to their parents, who own a Black Belt America studio in Madison.
“It’s nice because you always have someone to play with,” Jennifer Wideman said when asked about growing up a twin. “You also have to share a lot when you’re a twin.”
“We’re not in many classes together,” Jessica Wideman said. “It’s nice to see each other at the lockers but we don’t have to do everything together.”
Carter Breunig and Casey Breunig, born April 25, 2000, see a lot of each other. They both play on the school’s basketball team, are both AP Scholars, and this spring will be on the Blue Devils’ baseball team where Carter Breunigis a pitcher and plays first base and Casey Breunig plays second base. The two are each about 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds and share a bedroom at home. They have no plans to live together once they get to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse this fall.
“We’re going to try something different,” Carter Breunig said. “We’ve been rooming together for like 18 years.”
Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj