Boys’ Cross Country Runner Nikolai Solgaard is a Competitor

Stride after stride, junior cross-country runner Nikolai Solgaard (’12) treks through another six mile practice. Solgaard knows that he cannot rest after a long week of core workouts and hill runs. He has a meet the next day in which he is expected to finish first for the Palo Alto High School Vikings.

Though the next day is brutal, Solgaard pushes himself up and down the hills with a sense of pride in his first place finish among the Vikes. But his finish isn’t strong enough as he places 13th overall in the Artichoke Invitational.

Solgaard is a competitor, the kid that won’t take anything short of the best. What most students do not know is that he flips a switch when it comes to his passion: winning.

Nikolai Solgaard
Nikolai Solgaard Finishes First for the Vikings in the Stanford Invitational.

As a former Paly junior varsity soccer player, Solgaard evolved into one of the leaders of the team. Friend and teammate on the team, Geraldo Neto (’12), looked up to Solgaard.

“On the soccer field, he was really serious during the games and he was always on top of people trying to get them in the mindset of the game,” Neto said. “He told people what they needed to do and he never made jokes on the field.”

Yet, after playing soccer all of his life, Solgaard decided he enjoyed running more and gave up soccer.

“I like running more than soccer because I am my own coach and I put in what I am willing to give,” Solgaard said. “It is about how hard I push myself. I feel that I push myself more in running.”

Solgaard’s father, Olav, originally pushed Nikolai to run to get him in shape. The running proved to be the foundation for his future career at Paly.

“[My dad and I] did a lot of real distance running that would help keep me in shape for soccer and I think it is what led me to competitive running,” Solgaard said.

Much of the foundation was built in Nikolai’s long summers in Norway as a child.

“We spent long summers in Norway when he was little, and he used to race his older cousins up from the beach half a mile away,” Olav said.

“Like Nikolai, I have been running my whole life,” Olav said. “I ran both cross country and track, but focused on Orienteering, which is not very popular around here, but big in Norway.”

Orienteering is long distance trail running in which the runners have to use a map in order to check into key points along the route to finish. Orienteering requires dedication and endurance to finish the races. Much of Olav’s endurance and speed acquired through Orienteering has passed onto his son.

Solgaard uses these aspects to fuel his desire to win. He pushes all of his teammates and himself to be better in order to reach their goal.

“I am trying my hardest to be the leader and bring my time down,” Solgaard said. “We want to make it to CCS [Central Coast Section playoffs], so since I am the fastest on the team, and since we are scored on a team average time, I need to be well below the team average.”

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Nikolai pushes forward in the Stanford Invitational.

Solgaard feels that his friends motivate him because he wants to beat them, such as his key teammate and competitor Corso Rosati (’12).

“Nikolai’s personality is primarily defined by his competitiveness,” Rosati said. “He is a guy who will surely make you laugh. At the end of the day though, he is a focused runner who gets it done at races.”

The rivalry between Rosati and Solgaard dates back to last track season, when Rosati had the commanding lead, and Solgaard pushed forward and eventually left Rosati in the dust.

“As painful as it is to admit, however, [Solgaard] has beaten me consistently this year, so although we trash talk a lot, he has definitely been the faster runner this season,” Rosati said.

Just as Solgaard beat Rosati, he has also had three top 15 finishes this year.

“People race to get a best time or to get into college,” Solgaard said. “I race to beat someone else.”