Last winter Lex and Leo Young, the twin distance runners from Newbury Park High who have run some of the fastest times in U.S. history, were posed with a decision.
They could run their senior year of track and field with their high school team but sacrifice the opportunity to race against fields with professionals because of what they said were restrictions imposed by CIF rules. Or, they could race unaffiliated but forfeit their final prep season.
“Ultimately,” Leo Young said, “it wasn’t that difficult.”
It wasn’t, ultimately, because by skipping the high-school season, the Stanford-bound brothers preserved opportunities such as the one that awaits Friday night at UCLA’s Drake Stadium. Racing against professionals as part of the Los Angeles Grand Prix, they will attempt to move up the all-time high-school rankings. Lex Young is targeting the recently reset U.S. 5,000-meter record of 13 minutes 37.30 seconds and Leo Young is aiming to become the No. 2 all-time performer in the 1,500 meters.
“The record is absolutely the goal of the race,” Lex Young said in a phone interview. “I’ve had a lot of great workouts so I know I’m in fitness. It’s just going to be a matter of whether or not I can put it together on the day.
”… I think come Friday it’s going to be a good night because I’ve got the fitness, I’ve got the mentality.”
Galen Rupp’s 5,000 record of 13:37.91 had stood from 2004 until May 6, when Connor Burns of Missouri ran 13:37.30 at Track Fest in Walnut. That pushed Lex Young’s personal best of 13:43.95, run in 2022, to third all time.
“My mentality’s not changing because it’s the same record, it’s still within the same second so it doesn’t change the way I’m running, the way I’m training, it’s just cool to see that there’s more competition for it,” Lex Young said.
In April, Leo Young ran 3:39.39 in the 1,500 at the Bryan Clay Invitational, the sixth-fastest performance in prep history, per Track & Field News, and edging him just ahead of former Newbury Park teammate Colin Sahlman.
The U.S. record is held by Hobbs Kessler, who ran 3:34.36 in 2021. No other high school runner has run faster than 3:38.
“I think I’m fit for potentially under 3:38,” Leo Young said. “If I can go under 3:38, I’d be satisfied, but really it’s just all about going into that race and running really, really fast the whole time and hoping to come across the line just absolutely dead because I want to put it all out there.”
The brothers have run this spring for Newbury Park Athletic Club, an entity that allows them to race in non-prep competitions while continuing to be trained by Sean Brosnan, the former Newbury Park coach who is in his first season coaching distances for UCLA. The arrangement means they meet occasionally for in-person workouts, Leo Young said.
“It’s been really helpful for our training in general,” Leo Young said.
After the Grand Prix, Lex Young said he hoped to race the 1,500 meters in around 3:40, or the mile in less than four minutes, during June competitions. Leo Young said he would like to race an 800 meters ahead of Nike’s national meet in mid-June.
The brothers’ races Friday are part of the Grand Prix’s distance carnival. The meet resumes Saturday from 12:30 to 3 p.m., with the last 90 minutes broadcast on NBC.