The race was something her parents insisted a then eight-year old Cassidy Soli run.
Running was a family thing, and often times mom and dad would bring the twins – Cassidy and sister Somer – along for the workout.
“My parents got us running when we were little,” Soli said. “We would do the Earth Day races in St. Cloud, and the ones at Lifetime. But after my first big race, I just fell in love with it, and it has been way ever since.”
That passion led to a high school career unmatched in Champlin Park history, and to an opportunity to continue running when she arrives at Augustana College in the fall.
It also ended up earning her a chance to be named to the 2013 Athena Award recipient at Champlin Park High School.
The honor is bestowed annually to the best female athlete in the school. It’s been awhile, however, since it was awarded to a distance runner.
Jillian (Hart) Ylonen was the 1999 award winner, and Kaitlin Lindsey earned the recognition in the early 2000’s.
“It is kind of cool to know I’ve helped keep distance running here going,” said Soli. “I’m pretty proud of that.”
Soli’s letter jacket is decorated as such. She has six total varsity letters in cross country, and is working on her fifth in track in field.
This last fall, she became the first person from her school to qualify for four consecutive state cross country meets, and she is also a state tournament participant in track.
Her strength in both sports is derived from a passion to run, as well as a lifetime of being a gymnast in the winter months.
“Her lower body strength is all gymnastics,” said Champlin Park cross country coach and track distance coach Kevin Moorhead. “She’s been able to take advantage of that.”
Soli will be done with gymnastics moving forward, but the indoor track season at Augustana should make up for it in the winter.
What she said she’ll miss most about gymnastics however is the group of friends she’s made in her five high school seasons, particularly Somer, who will be attending school at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the fall.
They are twins, and naturally, the two have been inseparable most of their lives. They even spent time managing the school store together as part of their work with the Champlin Park DECA program.
“With technology, we’ll be able to stay in touch,” Cassidy said. “We just won’t be with each other 24/7 like we have pretty much our whole lives.”
There will be other outlets though for Soli to lean on, specifically a group of teammates she said she’s eager to train with.
At Champlin Park, training partners of her ilk have been hard to come by.
“It will be a change, but it will be nice to have people to train with,” Soli said. “It has been a while since I have had a teammate to run with and stick with in training and in races. It will be a nice change for me.”
She’ll have the smarts to hang in college as well.
Soli currently holds a 3.59 grade point average, and has been a fixture in the Champlin Park girls cross country team’s six-time academic section team championship run.
“Cassidy is at the next level in a lot of ways, and she has always been,” said Moorhead.
Contact Nick Clark at [email protected]