Defending the title

Navajo Prep boys win back-to-back trophies, cite community support

Group photo

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
The Navajo Prep Eagle cross-country team pose with their New Mexico Class 4A state trophy and banner Saturday in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.


When the Navajo Prep boys’ cross-country team started the season, they knew nothing would come easy.

Defending state champions, they knew it was harder to keep a title than to win one.

They also lost their top runner and someone had to step in.

“Early on we weren’t running together,” said senior Cameron Becenti. “We were pretty spread apart. Toward the middle of the season I would say our team sort of fell apart. We had to find someone to step up, actually our whole team had to step up.”

They all stepped up and earned another state title and became back-to-back Class 4A state champions with 78 points.

Pojoaque Valley followed 89 and West Las Vegas was third (101).

Navajo Prep head coach Stephanie Zahne said it was a moment she won’t soon forget.

“Everything is still fresh and all I can think of is how proud and amazed I am with the boys,” she said. “They continually surprise me. They have raised the bar for themselves and upcoming JV runners. I know when faced with a challenge they will put forth everything they are able to.”

Becenti came in first for the team and seventh overall in 17:21.8. Three juniors followed in a pack – Tyrease James, second for the team and 17th overall in 17:57.5, Trejan Clichee (third, 18th, 17:58.6), and Tyrese Begay (fourth, 19th, 17:58.9) – and junior Dante Barton (fifth, 21st, 18:02.2).

Zahne said she made it known from the beginning that keeping the state title is not the same as winning one.

“I told the boys, as a coach, I have been in a situation of defending a state title and we cannot start the season thinking it’s going to be handed to us or that it’s going to be easy,” she said. “We had to be prepared for a fight because it’s going to be anyone’s race and will go to who wants it more.”

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Categories: Track & Field
Tags: Navajo Prep

About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at or via cell at (505) 686-0769.