Socorro’s cross-country team has been steadily growing over the past four years.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

When Socorro cross country coach Beth Cadol took over her program, she had one runner and recruited eight more during the COVID pandemic in 2020. Now, four years later, she has 34 athletes on her roster.

That kind of growth has drawn the attention of other coaches on campus who are checking out what Cadol is doing. As she enters the 2023 season, Cadol quickly credits her runners’ efforts in recruiting new talent.

“They’re bringing it. It bubbles to the outside from inside of them, and they recruit their friends who feel happy and supported. They feel like they belong,” Cadol said. “I like to think that I foster an atmosphere that we’re that’s conducive to them feeling like they belong. I make a point that belonging is not fitting in. Belonging takes the courage to be oneself.”

Cross country may be a team sport, but Cadol knows she has to level different challenges for her runners, and being successful isn’t about being in the top ten. The running culture Cadol has developed is all about developing confidence and getting runners to learn about themselves.

Sophomore Anastasia Zagrai is an example of that “push it” attitude when she does a double dose of what Cadol prescribes for a workout.

“I know that if I push myself, then eventually, later. I’ll know like, oh, that one time where I was dying — I did now, and I can do it again,” Zagrai said.

Cadol has been bringing her entire program up one level at a time, and it is part of a long-term plan.

“I knew it was a five-year plan. I knew not to expect winning teams right away. I knew that I needed to have a long-term view on it.” Cadol said. I’m trying to teach these kids it’s not about one single competitive season or even their high school career. It’s about instilling in them the idea that they can do this for their lifetime.”

The idea of making sure her runners feel like they belong comes from Cadol’s love of wearing out a pair of running shoes herself.

“Running is something that has brought me joy, and I’ve made some of my best friends. I have seen places that I would never have seen before if not for running, and I don’t know if my athletes will be competitive runners all their life, but I want them to know that it is available to them and that they can go for a run and feel good that day.”

Socorro cross country fans are in for a double treat on Oct. 6 with the Socorro Stampede, and the Warriors will host this year’s district meet on Nov. 3 or 4.


Alamo Navajo cross country coach Wendall Apache is entering his seventh season leading the Cougars. He started because he wanted to help his sons, and he continued that role because Apache intends to give back to his community.

The start of the year has been rough, with students still trying to catch up from school outages due to electric and water problems, and it’s slowed down who will be available for this year’s squad.

That kind of dedication gets senior Jacob Apache out and running for the first time since eighth grade. Apache is a first-team all-district basketball player who wields a mean lariat in team roping, and he’s a nationally ranked archer who is answering a challenge.

“It’s very hard for a small school to be way out here and going and competing against the higher-level schools. We like challenging them because those runners practice all summer and have some elite coaching,” Jacob said.

Even with the logistics problems he has encountered as a coach, Apache isn’t worried about this year’s team because he feels his squad will be highly competitive.

“There’s some tradition here, and we’ve been to the state meet before,” Apache said.