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HOUSTON - Emanuel Galdino put a golden finish on his high school running career under the state's brightest lights.
In the same stadium that just a year ago, the Stratford senior raced to a third-place finish in the 1600-meter run, the Iowa State-signee kicked it into another gear in 2022. Coming down the home stretch of Mike A. Myers Stadium, Galdino raced across the line more than 10 seconds faster from 2021.
Galdino crossed along at 4:06.40 - a personal best good enough for the Class 6A 1600-meter State Championship.
"This is what every runner has been working for is that state gold medal," Galdino said.
Emanuel Galdino from Houston Stratford takes the 6A boys 1600m win in a time of 4:06 ahead of Plano West’s Hudson Heikkinen. pic.twitter.com/bbZmksVLti— Texas MileSplit (@TXMileSplit) May 15, 2022
The Stratford senior this spring finished in either first or second in every race he ran. Of his 19 races, Galdino took first in 15 of those.
His 1600-meter time went from a 4:20.95 in the opening race of the season at the Spring Branch ISD Will Taylor Relays in February to shaving off more than 14 seconds by this past weekend's UIL State Track & Field State Championships.
So, when did he know that a gold medal would be his destiny?
"The moment I woke up that morning," Galdino said. "I knew when I was going to step on that line, I was going to win."
As Galdino walks away from Stratford, he hopes that people remember him for being "exhilarating" and driven.
"If you want it and dream about it, go get it," Galdino said.
SOFIA AKPAN DIDN’ T CARE FOR TRACK AND FIELD UNTIL SHE SAW HER TWIN SISTER, SARAH, DOING IT.
“She’d come home with medals all the time,” Sofia said. “I was like, ‘Whoa, what? I want some too!’ Plus, she was always out at track meets and I was just at home, bored alone, so I was like, let me start taking this serious.”
Sarah saw what her sister was doing and wanted to do that, too. It’s a sibling thing. But unlike most siblings, the Akpans turned what was initially a hobby to spend more time with friends into a ticket to college.
The Stratford High seniors are stars on the track and in the jumping pit. Sofia competes in the 100-meter dash and 300-meter hurdles. She set personal records in each event earlier this season with a 13.40-second mark in the 100 dash and 43.25-second mark in the 300 hurdles.
Sarah competes in the 100 and 200-meter dash, and the long jump. Like her sister, she has set personal records in each event this season, running 11.44 seconds in the 100 meters, 24.67 seconds in the 200 meters, and jumping 18 feet 9.5 inches in the long jump.
Both also run the 4x100 relay, helping set a school record with a time of 46.95 seconds in February. They also set a school record in the 4x400 relay with a time of 3:54.07 just days before the 4x100 record.
“It makes us want to go harder,” Sarah said. “If it’s so early in the season, that means we can get better. There’s so much improvement coming towards the end of the season.”
Oh, yes, the future is indeed bright. The sisters have already signed to run at the University of Virginia next season.
“It had everything,” Sarah said. “When we were getting recruited, a school would offer me more than her or the other way around. We wanted a school that would balance out. It felt like a home away from home.”
Sofia added: “That was the plan. To stick together. It felt like family over there.”
Sofia is the jokester of the two. Sarah is a bit more serious. Both love Forrest Gump. Both get hyped to Congratulations by Post Malone.
What one loves, the other loves. What one doesn’t, the other doesn’t.
“It’s been amazing having someone who can always motivate you,” Sofia said. “We’re each other’s best friend, on and off the track. When she’s racing, I’m on the side cheering for her. When I’m racing, she’s on the side cheering for me.”
“We hold each other accountable, too,” said Sarah, finishing Sofia’s thought. “We make sure we get done what we need to.”
Life is good for the Akpans. They’re setting a bunch of records, personally and team-wise, this season. They’re loving what they’re doing.
But, more importantly, they’re loving who they’re doing it with.
“Track has set up a really great future for me, like a plan and a platform,” Sofia said. “Being able to get a scholarship and being able to get the right education. That’s my inspiration. And, also, being around her a lot.”