By Ron Adkins
Heart of America Triathlon News
Kayla Soliday’s second tri ever was the recent Best Dam Triathlon, where she competed in the Olympic-length course to qualify for Collegiate Nationals later this year. By coincidence, her first triathlon was at last year’s Collegiate Nationals.
Kayla competes as part of the Iowa State University Triathlon Club. This is her second year with the team.
And, as a student at Iowa State, she is studying industrial engineering for her second bachelor’s degree.
Seeing the pattern? It keeps going …
Triathlon is the second sport she has conquered. She was previously captain of the University of Northern Iowa rugby team. She was deemed ineligible because of her age to play for the Cyclone rugby squad, so she pondered another outlet for her athletic talent. She chose triathlon because she found their difficulty attractive. “I was used to being part of an aggressive team sport, but with triathlons, it’s all about the individual. When you get out there to train, and when you compete, it’s all on you,” she said.
While she loves racing on the whole, Kayla confesses that she’s “not a swimmer at all. I’m awful at it. I try to pick up my lost time on the bike. That’s my strength.”
She draws that strength, she says, from being part of her tri club. She’s a proud member of the TriClones and one of its most vocal cheerleaders. “It is so much fun,” she said. “There’s such a wide range of ages in the group. And we all encourage each other and push each other to train. We’re constantly sending out emails and texts saying that we’re going out for a run, or ‘we’re going to be training tonight, so you better get your butt out here.’”
Her connection to the number two continues. Her boyfriend, Alex Whigham is Kayla’s biggest supporter and his pride in her accomplishments is evident when he talks about her. At the Best Dam Tri, Alex drove from Dubuque, Iowa to watch her compete. It was the first time he’d seen her race in a triathlon.
Alex greeted Kayla at the end with a surprise bouquet of flowers. Kayla didn’t know he was coming to the race, but was delighted to see him (and the flowers) waiting for her at the finish line.
“All the people by the finish were waiting to see if I was going to propose to her,” Alex said. When asked if he did pop the question, both Kayla and Alex replied with an emphatic, “No.”
“We’re not quite ready for that,” laughed Kayla. (Alex nods in agreement.)
He will, however, despite her connection to two’s, remain Kayla’s Number One Fan.