The Young twins have chosen their own direction. Together.
Leo Young and Lex Young, the All-American running tandem who helped drive Newbury Park High to perhaps the best season in high school cross country history last fall, have both committed to run at Stanford University under coach Ricardo Santos.
“And hopefully win some national championships,” Lex said. “That’s the goal. To help create a new distance powerhouse.”
The Youngs announced their decision Sunday morning with a video they shot and edited on their YouTube page.
“We’ve talked extensively with (Santos) and the guys on the team,” Leo said. “We’re buying into the methodology of the coach and program.”
The Youngs were key pieces of the Newbury Park boys cross country team that achieved a historic perfect score of 15 at CIF-Southern Section Division 1 finals, broke the 28-year-old record for the lowest score at the CIF-State meet and dominated the field at the Garmin RunningLane national championships last fall.
While teammate Colin Sahlman set the national 5k record in winning RunningLane in 14:03.29, Leo Young and Lex Young, then juniors, also finished five seconds better than the previous national record in finishing second and third, respectively.
Leo Young also won the three-mile sweepstakes race at the Woodbridge Classic in 13:38.1.
Speculation in running circles debated whether the Youngs would join older brother Nico Young and Sahlman at Northern Arizona University.
As a freshman last fall, Nico Young finished 11th overall to help NAU win its fifth NCAA Division I men’s cross country national championship in six years.
Or did the timing of the announcement mean the Youngs would join Sean Brosnan, the coach who built Newbury Park into a national power, at UCLA?
Brosnan was unveiled as the Bruins’ new distance running coach just last week.
In actuality, the brothers had already completed their long recruiting process.
“We’ve kept it very private,” Leo Young said.
The process included visits to Stanford, Northern Arizona and the University of Virginia, as well as a long look at the University of Washington.
“I was looking for a place where I could feel at home,” Lex Young said. “Somewhere I could really see myself not just living, but also exploring,”
Lex Young said they never “seriously” considered running for different schools.
“We didn’t want to limit the decision based off of each other,” Lex Young said. “We also kind of understood that we’re almost in the same situation and most likely we would come to the same conclusion. … We were pretty much always on the same page.”
The twins were not ready to say goodbye to their built-in training partners.
“We will train better if we’re with each other,” Lex Young said. “We’re going to perform better, if we’re in the same place.”
Leo Young said their older brother, who also considered Stanford as a Newbury Park senior, played a “key role” in the process.
“There was focus on what will make us the happiest,” he said. “We realized our situation was maybe a little bit different than his.”
The decision means that someday soon, they may approach the same starting line as Nico Young while hearing Brosnan’s familiar voice coaching another team.
“I think that’ll be awesome,” Leo said. “I love competing against people. … I think that’s really fun. It’ll be cool to see Sean at a race.”
As they followed their older brother’s national championship season at NAU, they also noticed Stanford, which won the NCAA West regional and finished fifth at the national championships.
“It’s ready,” Leo Young said. “The team itself is ready to be good. It’s going to be good this season.”
The Youngs are excited to eventually be a part of it.
“The goal is to help build a program that’s going to be a powerhouse,” Lex Young said. “They’ve got a lot of really good guys there.”
They were also familiar with the area, because they have family nearby. So they’re already scouting out potential training runs on the nearby foothills or along the bay.
“There’s a lot of these jetty paths that go out in the marshy area of the bay,” Lex Young said. “They feel endless.”
Lex is interested in studying architecture, with a focus on sustainability and the environment, while Leo expects to study business.
But first, there is a small matter of a senior year, which carries with it some “crazy” expectations.
“Lex and I really want to battle it out for the national title, the state title, all those things in cross country,” Leo Young said. “Whatever course we’re on, we want to get those records. We want to go crazy.”
Newbury Park recently completed its summer training program in Big Bear.
“We want to be so fit that it shocks people,” Lex Young said. “The goal is to push yourself to the absolute limit.”
While Lex completed his track season by running a 4:01.52 to finish second at the RunningLane Championship Mile in Huntsville, Alabama, Leo’s season was ended prematurely by an illness, which is in the rearview mirror.
“We’re feeling good, we’re really ready, we’re motivated,” Leo Young said.
Joe Curley is a staff reporter for The Star. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him @vcsjoecurley onTwitter,FacebookspiritInstagram.