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NRHEG queen court sees double-double

NRHEG, twins, homecoming, royalty
The 2022 New Richland Hartland Ellendale Geneva Homecoming queen court features two sets of twins. While all six candidates are good friends, Tatum, top left, and Trinity Vulcan Smith, top right, have been close to the Ihrke twins since infancy. Bree is on the bottom left; Bailey is at the bottom right. Staff photo by Kay Fate
Kay Fate, Staff Writer

Full disclosure: There may be some mis-attributed quotes within this story, but chances are, the people involved are used to it.

It involves four girls, seniors at New Richland Hartland Ellendale Geneva (NRHEG) High School – best friends, by all accounts, but also in an unusual situation.

That’s because twin sisters Tatum and Trinity Vulcan Smith and twins Bree and Bailey Ihrke are four of the six candidates for NRHEG Homecoming queen.

The double-twin friendship dates back to their infancy.

“Their mom’s a teacher,” said Tatum, “and we have older siblings who went through the school, and I think our parents met through that…”

“… then when they heard they were (both) having twins, they became friends right away,” said Bree.

There’s a lot of that: One twin starting a sentence and another – though not necessarily a sister – completing the thought.

“There’s a picture of us laying on a blanket together,” said Bree. “They were born in November, and we were born in December.”

Seventeen years later, the four are sitting on the homecoming court, along with Sidney Schultz and Eva Wayne.

“We’ve all been best friends since we were really little,” Bree said, including the two “singletons” on the court.

“Growing up in a small school, we’ve been friends with these people since kindergarten, at least,” Tatum agreed.

The Vulcan Smiths and the Ihrkes all play softball, are all in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and on the yearbook staff, though there is some degree of separation.

“I’m the only one in basketball,” said Trinity, “and they’re all in volleyball, but I’m not. I’m just their biggest fan.”

“She comes to every game and does our hair,” Bree said.

They admit there’s a daily debriefing after school since their class schedules are different.

“Before we leave our lockers, we say, ‘have a good day; I’ll see you later.’ We talk to each other a little bit at lunch,” Bree said, “then catch up on the ride home.”

Things will change somewhat next fall, as the four head off to college.

The Vulcan Smith girls will attend Black Hills State University; Trinity for nursing, Tatum double-majoring in special education and elementary education.

“We didn’t think we’d find a school that we both liked,” Tatum said, “but we checked it out and both fell in love with it.”

“We don’t have as much figured out as they do,” said Bree, who plans to major in architecture. “We don’t care either way, but I kind of want to go to a big school…”

“…and I want a small school,” said Bailey, who will major in elementary education. “We’d be OK together or separate, individually. As long as we’re happy, we’ll support each other.”

That’s how it’s been their entire lives, all four girls said.

“It’s just part of being a twin,” Bailey said. “There are just going to be occasions when something different happens – which I kind of like, because we’re not the same person.”

In fact, “we bicker over everything,” said Tatum, “but we also know everything about each other. It’s your biggest supporter, but your biggest competitor.”

So back to being nominated for homecoming queen. Were they surprised?

“For sure, I knew these two would,” said Trinity, pointing at the Ihrke twins, then her sister. “And her. But I didn’t think I would.”

“I definitely thought my friends would,” Tatum said, “and I was hoping if it was going to be twins, that they’d put both (of the set) in. If it was just one, it would really suck.”

So would they rather see one of the two non-twins win? Schultz or Wayne?

All four girls shook their head no, then each pointed at her sister.

“I’ll be happy with whoever wins,” Tatum said, “but that’s your closest person. Because it’s your family, it kind of makes it easier to pick her, honestly.”

That turned the head shakes into nods.

Besides, Trinity said, “it’s just not drama if you vote for your twin sister.”

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