Senior places 3rd in Section 5AA to qualify for a fourth girls state meet
Cassidy Soli didn’t care much about the time, nor was she worrying about the expectations she might have this weekend.
This was about the moment, and her ability to not only live in it, but to embrace it as well.
In the 20 years since Champlin Park High School opened its doors in 1992, no cross county participant had ever qualified for four different state meets.
Stephanie Sjostrom came close, as she made it as a sophomore, junior and then senior to close out her decorated prep career as Champlin Park’s best ever.
The year after Sjostrom graduated, Soli qualified for her first state meet as a ninth-grader. She went again as a sophomore, and then after a growth spurt slowed Soli much of her junior season, she mustered enough gusto to sneak into one more state meet by seasons end.
Then came this year, when a full summer of training and a measured comfort with her body left an unfulfilled goal within reach.
Simply put, she wanted the school record.
“It was something I set out to do this year,” Soli said. “I really wanted to break the school record. It motivated me.”
When the opportunity finally presented itself to her last week on the outskirts of Anoka High School, Soli left no doubt.
The senior raced to a third-place finish in the Section 5AA finals, easing into a fourth state meet by placing third overall after covering the 4-kilometer layout in 15 minutes, 5.08 seconds.
The time, which was a full two seconds faster than what she ran in finishing ninth in the 2009 Class AA state meet, was nearly identical to what she’s posted in her four state qualifying attempts.
“That is the remarkable thing about her,” said Champlin Park cross country coach Kevin Moorhead. “She’s been through a lot with the growth spurts, yet she’s been able to maintain a time in this event. That is really impressive.”
Soli was more impressed by her ability to fend off a sickness that cost her much of MEA weekend and lingered into the early parts of last week.
She didn’t look ill though by race time, and she didn’t really look like she had in any other race prior to then either.
Moorhead said it was expression he has seen before, but it has been awhile.
“That was the face I saw when she was conference three years ago, and when she won sections in track two years ago,” Moorhead said. “That was the look of that competitive first. You could tell she wanted this.”
What she would like this week is a top-20 finish, which would be accompanied by all-state honors.
The Class AA girls state cross country meet will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2 at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
By 2:16, she’ll know where she stands.
“For me, I am just happy I made it back,” Soli said. “I don’t know what to think. I just want to go down there and enjoy it one last time.”
Teams place 10th, 12th
While Soli was running into a fourth straight, the rest of the Champlin Park cross country runners were competing in what their coach called the “deepest Section 5 race in years.”
As a team, the Champlin Park girls placed 10th in the 15-team event.
Soli led the way, and was followed (in order) by sophomore Emily Rose, senior Carly Denler, senior Emily Scott, senior Karli Mattson, junior Megan Johnson and sophomore Katherine Novak.
The Champlin Park boys placed 12tj as a team. Senior Ahmed Tesfu paced the team with a 45th place finish. Senior Jacob Holm, senior Peter Simon, sophomore Nick Hayes, and the ninth-grade trio of Aaron Kloeppner, Dmitry Bierker and Michael Volk rounded out the Rebel boys.