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Ena and Ani Gilliana from Valparaiso are on the same road

There is a one-year age difference between Valparaiso junior Ani Gilliana and sophomore Ena Gilliana.

But that might be where the differences end. They are often confused with twins.

“I think we are both similar in every way, and the older we get, the more similarities we see,” Ani Gilliana said. “We are always together, we train together and I feel like that affects our performance.”

Ani and Ena Gilliana even compete in athletics in the same competition. They entered this season as two of the best middle-distance runners in the region after qualifying for the state meet in the 800-meter run last year.

They were not named co-champions in the 800 at the 2023 Portage Regional, but the gap between them was narrow. Ani Gilliana came first with a time of 2 minutes 18.09 seconds, while Ena Gilliana came second with a time of 2:18.36.

According to Ena Gilliana, finishing the race so close was no coincidence.

“I imagined there was an invisible bond between us,” he said. “When he left, I had to go too. Going into this season, I dream of the same thing because he helped me a lot.”

Ani and Ena Gilliana plan to compete in the 800 again and may also factor in the Vikings’ 1,600 and 3,200 relay teams. They have a similar drive, according to Valparaiso assistant John Arredondo, who works with the team’s distance runners.

“They are pretty mature from an athletic standpoint,” he said. “From day one I tell them what they need to do that day and they do it. They do all the little things they need to do.

As motivated as the sisters are, Ani Gilliana said they’re not trying to outdo each other.

“The only time it’s competitive is in racing,” he said. “And before the race we don’t say, ‘I’m going to beat you.’ “It’s more like, ‘We got this.'”

Ani and Ena Gilliana believe they make each other better.

“We had an intra-team meeting a few weeks ago and the last 200 of the 800 I thought, ‘Oh, this is getting harder,’” Ani Gilliana said. “But Ena was right on my hip and started kicking, so I felt like I had to kick too. I never get upset when Ena beats me. “This motivates me to work harder so I can run with him.”

That doesn’t mean they don’t annoy each other from time to time.

“They’re still going to piss each other off,” Arredondo said with a laugh. “While Ena is still the one talking to everyone, Ani is the one waiting and says they should go because she is the one driving the car.”

Ani and Ena Gilliana have another sister, Ava, who was an all-state athlete in track and cross country before graduating from Valparaiso in 2020. Ava Gillian She is a senior at Air Force, where she was an NCAA qualifier in the 800 last year.

“When I was in sixth grade, I thought what Ava was doing was so cool,” Ena Gilliana said. “It was crazy to see how confident he was and how much that confidence changes you as a person. “This affects your whole life, and it affected our lives too.”

Ani and Ena Gilliana are optimistic about this season as they continue to impress each other. After playing basketball as a freshman, Ena Gilliana decided to focus on track this winter.

“I’m excited because we’re a lot closer now,” Ani Gilliana said. “Since Ena doesn’t do basketball, we have to train more together and now we are on the same level and I think that will help us both be successful.”

Dave Melton is a freelance reporter.

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