There has been no greater domination of a high school sport in New Mexico than Socorro’s grip on winning golfing titles. The Lady Warriors and Warriors have brought home 37 team titles and have had 20 individual state champions.

The Lady Warriors completed a three-peat last season, and while they are going after a fourth championship, it’s simply par for the course for Socorro.

Golf is Socorro High School’s richest tradition, and Miguel and Kristen Griego, a husband-and-wife coaching team, are both former players who have kept adding to Socorro’s trophy case.

The University of the Southwest picked up Tivonne Anaya, last season’s state champion, who claimed the individual crown at Canyon Club at Four Hills.

Even with such a historic record, the coaching duo doesn’t feel pressure but a need and sense of responsibility to keep it all rolling. It was a difficult and unique start than what Kristen imagined when she took over the girls’ golf team in 2020.

“I think it was challenging. I mean, we didn’t play state or anything that year. Then, the following year, our start date kept getting pushed back. So, I don’t think we played at state until maybe the middle or end of June. It was pretty far out after we finished school. That was kind of a challenge because everyone’s already in summer break mode,” she said.

Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain
The Warriors golf team is young and has the advantage of good numbers

One thing that’s made her work easier is the junior PGA program that young local athletes are taking part in during the summer. She and Miguel are there to volunteer, scout for the future, and develop chemistry with the players.

“It starts with our great junior golf programs every summer. It really gets kids into competitive golf mode. We’re pretty lucky in that. We have a strong youth program that feeds our high school programs.” Kristen said. “Miguel and I both help out, and we volunteer in the summer and for the PGA Junior League. That way, the kids will get used to us and work on developing good habits with them, so by the time they get to high school, we will know a lot of them well.”

Both coaches agree on what the biggest challenge for young golfers today is.
“The greatest challenge is commitment. Kids today have so much going on and we never want them to choose to play golf only so they don’t miss out at this age,” Miguel said.

It’s a statement echoed by his wife.

“Many of our student-athletes play other sports, and it’s challenging with golf to pick it up in season. We support their playing other sports because I know it’s important for our school and community. But we encourage them to go out there over the weekend and get some swings in. We’re pretty lucky with our group of kids. A lot of them go out there on their own time, and they understand what it takes to be successful,” Kristen said.

Indeed, coming together as a team can make a difference.

“The greatest strength is the unity they have. They see new kids stepping on to varsity year after year, which is a product of their hard work.” Miguel said. “We have people perform in different ways. Isaiah Silva picks up the slack with his play. Ian Gonzales is more of our leader both on and off the course.

The 2024 Socorro golf teams include Natasha Apodaca, Estella Candelaria, Ariana Crespin, Abbegail Munguia, Jenna Olney, Avery Timmons, Kailyn Woods, Derek Acosta, Tavin Benavidez, Andrien Carrillo, Ian Gonzales, Andrew Handrich, Gabriel Henderson, Julian Hinojosa, Andrew Mollenbrock, Bwyn Romero, Inyn Romero, Isaish Silva, Saxon Sturgis, Rylan Timmons