Take Two: Andover High may have record number of twins

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 15, 2012 - 9:28 AM

With 28 sets of twins, Andover High School has multiple reasons to bid for world record book.

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As many sets of twins as could be there gathered for a yearbook picture Tuesday at Andover High School. Of the 28 pairs at the school, two sets were born on the same day in the same hospital. Not included in the tally is a set of triplets.

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

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Travis Oines blinked twice, thinking he was seeing double. But at Andover High School, where there are 28 sets of twins, everybody does double takes.

"You have a twin?" Travis asked fellow sophomore Sam Nycklemoe as Sam's twin brother, Karl, approached Tuesday.

"You have a twin?" Sam asked upon seeing Travis' twin sister, Taylor.

Twins have become so common at Andover High that even the twins can't keep track of each other. But are 28 sets a record number for a high school?

Andover High officials have notified Guinness World Records and will learn within six weeks whether 28 times two equals a Guinness mark.

Two high schools appear to have had more. J.J. Pearce of Richardson, Texas, had 32 sets of twins last year, but several parents told school officials they did not want to do the paperwork that Guinness required, Assistant Principal Chakosha Powell said.

The official record holder appears to be Louis Marshall School in Brooklyn, N.Y., which had 29 sets of twins in the 1999-2000 school year, according to several sources.

Andover High also has a set of triplets -- Austin, Cody and Nathan Close. Close may count in horseshoes, but Close triplets won't count toward a twins record.

"But 28 sets of twins at any school is remarkable," said Dr. Nancy Segal, the former assistant director for twin and adoption research at the University of Minnesota. Segal, who studies twins at California State University, Fullerton, is the author of "Born Together--Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study," to be published this spring.

"What's happened in Minnesota is pretty impressive, but there's no logical explanation," she said. "Maybe [parents] eat hearty. Maybe they were bored, with nothing else to do."

Take two ... or more

Minnesota is not considered a leader in multiple births -- although the identical quadruplet Durst sisters of Buffalo gained national attention through appearances on "The Tonight Show" and their own reality TV series last year. Minnesota's most established triplets are the Lebedoffs -- Jonathan, a retired federal magistrate and longtime Hennepin County judge; David, an author, lawyer and former member of the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents; and Judy, a former WCCO radio producer.

But Andover High may have generated the biggest stir over twins since baseball Twins Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau began their own assaults on the record books.

"That seems like a lot," senior Sarah Ekman, wearing a Minnesota Twins jersey, said of the number of twins at her school.

"Have we met most of them?" asked twin sister Elizabeth, also wearing a Twins jersey.

"This is a way of life for us, for all of us," said senior Alexis Zapzalka, captain of the girls' swimming team.

"We think nothing of finishing each other's sentences," said Peyton Zapzalka, captain of the girls' track team.

As identical twins, the Zapzalkas are a rarity in Andover, where most of the twins are fraternal. The Zapzalkas were born July 20, 1994, at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids -- the same day classmates Matt and Mike Schultz were born there.

None of the twins seemed overly concerned about a possible Guinness record. As all the Andover twins assembled on a school stairway with Minnesota Twins mascot T.C., they seemed more concerned with their lunch break.

Brent and Nathan Stong already have won something. They were awarded four tickets through a school foundation to a Twins game this year. Brent, a pitcher, and Nate, a catcher, will attend Bradley University on baseball scholarships.

"Brent and Nate's mom is our little sister's fifth-grade teacher," said Peyton Zapzalka. "We're all connected, one way or another."

Paul Levy • 612-673-4419

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