The Lady Warriors cross country team is headed to the state meet after a 1-2 finish by Abby Cadol and Anastasia Zagrai paced Socorro to the District 3/4 title on Nov. 3 at the Rodeo and Sports Complex.

It was a moment that was four years in the making for Cadol, and she covered the 5K course in 23:24. Making the moment extra special is that Cadol is in eighth grade, and she’s been practicing with the team since her mother and head coach Beth Cadol took over the group.

Coach Cadol has also been waiting for one of her teams to break through and capture her first district title, and the moment was made extra sweet with her daughter winning. She also wasn’t at the finish line but instead about 300 yards from the finish as she stayed in place to encourage the remainder of her team while also acting as the race’s coordinator.

Abby Cadol didn’t need her mother over those final steps because their relationship as an athlete and coach had been preparing for the moment over the last 1,500 mornings it took to get there.

“There were times in the morning when I told her you have to run before you swim, and she would roll her eyes at me,” Cadol said. “As I was leaving the room, I would say you are welcome for your district championship.”

At the race’s start, Socorro stayed packed up as older runners set the early pace, and Cadol found herself behind at least a dozen runners. “I was told to stay behind them (front pack) and save energy. I made my move at about the .75-mile mark,” Abby Cadol said. “I just took the rest of the race from there. Winning is a great feeling. It’s been really fun.”

The young runner didn’t bask in her glory but instead grabbed a popsicle and a towel and went down to the start of the final stretch to encourage her teammates. “I want our entire team to get to state this year. It’s enjoyable to have the entire team and get the whole team experience. I want the other kids to have fun, too,” Cadol said.

Cadol didn’t have to offer shoutouts to Zagrai as she finished second with a clocking of 24:03. Zagrai’s topping Cobre’s Analisa Tovar was another testament to Cadol’s work because the sophomore was in third place when she passed her coach.

“I told Anastasia she needed to be in full stride when she hit the corner because the final stretch isn’t long. After the meet, she came up and told me she remembered what I told her to do, and she caught and passed the Cobre runner,” coach Cadol said.

It was an excellent final kick, with Zagrai besting Tovar by 4.9 seconds and recording a personal best time of 24:03. “I’m so proud of her because she’s very intelligent and always breaking things down. Early in the season, she was frustrated, but I told her to be patient and that she was right where she needed to be at the time,” Cadol said.

Sky Sessions’ (11th) fifth place (24:39) and Kathleen Johnson’s (8th) 26:10 gave Socorro four runners in the top ten. Other Lady Warrior places included 11. Estella Candelaria, 27:42; 16. Breanna Lucero, 30:00; 18. Esther Gutierrez, 31:36; 21. Lyzz Moellenbrock, 33:11.

It’s been a four-year-long from the ground-up building of Cadol’s cross country program. In 2019, there wasn’t a single girl competing for Socorro High School. “I recruited them with the sales pitch that I didn’t need people who could run fast, but instead, I wanted people who had heart,” coach Cadol said.

While they have plenty of heart, a young Warrior team still needs physical growth and experience to take the next step, but coach Cadol has confidence in her runner in making that happen,

“I’ve been talking to boys here at the end of the season about how much they’ve improved. Now, relative to the upperclassmen who’ve been racing for several years in our district. Our district boys ran well this year. We lost our top runners to graduation, and we have to build back, and we have this great group of really young inexperienced runners who have improved by 4-5 minutes over a 5k in just one season,” coach Cadol said.

Warrior finishes included 30. Daniel Bowles, 23:43; 31. Timur Aitbayev, 23:56; 32. Rylan Timmons, 23:56; 36. Gilbert Armijo, 25:19; 25:19; 37. Drizzten Chavis, 25:30; 38. Liam Demorest, 25:38; 40. Riley Sewell, 26:22; 41. Andrew Moellenbrock, 30:40. The Lady Warriors will compete at the Class 3A state cross country meet on Saturday at Albuquerque Academy in a race slated for a 9:45 a.m. start.