Today, we salute Yahya Soliman of Cumberland Valley. Soliman closed out a strong career at CV and will head to Boston College in the fall. During his career, he collected PRs of 1:56.19 in the 800 meters, 4:27.80 in the 1600 meters, and 15:54 for 5K in XC. He competed a number of times at the state meet in both XC and track.
Throughout the end of June and through July we we be honoring our graduating seniors. To submit your own questionnaire to be posted on the front page of PennTrackXC, check out this page and email your responses to Dan Beck (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What was your most memorable race/competition?
My most memorable race was Paul Short sophomore year. I had come off of a great freshman track season having run a 4:27 to qualify for districts, but, for some reason, my running just wasn't clicking in xc. My freshman year I had earned a medal in 18th at Districts and finished the season with a 16:46 PR, yet it was the last race before post season sophomore year, and I had not even gone sub 17. I had fallen from 2nd to about 7th or 8th on our team. That day I had actually skipped a religious Holiday celebration(Eid Al Adha) with my family to race, so I had to make my performance worth it. I went into the race with a nonchalant, "so what" attitude, maybe even in a bad way, like a "forget running" mindset. In fact, when the gun went off, half of our team was turned around facing the wrong direction. Kinda funny considering we ended up in second to Malvern. Anyway, I went out in my fastest start ever, and I ended up finishing first for my team in 15:54. Not gonna lie, I cried when i saw that time I had hit. It was actually kind of funny at the time. I went from a season best of 17:11 to 15:54. One of the 2 times I've cried in xc.
Watch Soliman take third and run a PR in the 800 meters at the Stan Morgan Invitational in 2017:
Where did you face your biggest competition?
In all honesty, the biggest competition I faced was my entire senior season. The Affolders had joined our district, and, on top of that, everyone just seemed to be running out of their minds. It felt like every time we saw the performances from another meet, we couldn't believe it. Going into our District Championship, we knew we had a mountain to climb, especially having lost our 4 of our top 7 runners to injury. Judging by the past two years where we were runners up both times, by 4 and 21 points, we knew anything and everything was possible. So, we ran our race anyway, and we actually had the best team performance in our school's history, topping even that of our 2012 District Championship team. However, we missed qualifying for states by I think 2 points. It was an amazing season nonetheless finish with 8 or 9 guys under 17 minutes. It showed me that things can being going bad then suddenly go well and sorta bad again but whatever.
Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
My greatest achievement has to be my senior post seasons in xc and track. After a junior xc season in which I literally had one and only one good race, to have finished in the top 15 at Mid Penns and Districts and top 40 at states was a great achievement to me. I went into the season determined to be consistent, and it's what I did. In track, after a junior season in which I had had my first trip to states on the track as a part of a relay team I was eager to return. So to return the next year in 3 events was a proud accomplishment.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
I'm not sure I would change anything. Yeah, things didn't always go as planned, but you live and learn.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
I know it's cliche, but myself. I've honestly been blessed with not having to worrying about too many injuries, and my coaches were amazing as well as my teammates, and the talent was there. That meant that when things were going poorly, I knew that the missing piece of it all was myself. Training is one thing, racing is another. Things are always easier said than done.
What will you miss the most?
I will miss leaving school every day and walking over to practice with my teammates. I'll miss all of the stupid things we did together. The great memories, the laughs and the stupid jokes. I'll miss running around making gorilla sounds and flailing our arms. Yeah, we did that.. I don't know what college running holds in store, but I know I can never replace my high school team.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
Don't assume, don't rely on a natural progression or a pattern-like drop in times as you grow older. Things don't always work out like you expect, but you also set limits on yourself that way even if you aren't aware of it. You will have your ups and downs no matter what, but, by the same token, people make huge leaps in their performances all the time. Don't say to yourself, "Okay, I ran a 2:05 800 freshman year, so I should be able to run around 2 flat sophomore year." Who knows what's going to happen? Maybe you find yourself running 1:56 or 2:02. I personally ran 4:27 freshman year and never beat that time. I dropped 3 seconds in the 400 in one year. I ran 15:54 sophomore year and ran 30 seconds slower PER MILE at the same race the next year. Take it one race at a time, and when you run well, trust that you have further to go. When you run poorly, trust that that it won't last. Class is permanent, form is temporary.
How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals overall?
Without a doubt. People always ask if a runner is really 50% natural ability, 50% coaching. I think it's 50% natural ability, 60% coaching. That extra 10% you give on your PR day, that comes from your coach.
What are your post-high school plans?
I plan on studying Econ and Politics at Boston College while running track, probably mid-distance. Idk we'll see.
If he's reading this, he knows it's coming. Shout out to Jim, my best friend through high school. On and off the track, he's had my back for 5 years now. Only he and I (and a handful of others) know that I came very close to quitting my running career, but he wouldn't let me, so for that, thanks Jim. Also shout out to the rest of my team and my coaches.