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Leo and Lex Young ready to try latest run for a state title

Leo Young just really wanted that ravioli.

Three weeks ago, the senior traveled with twin brother Lex and the Newbury Park High boys’ cross-country juggernaut to Fresno for the Clovis Invitational, visiting their favorite spot for a team dinner the night before the meet: an Italian restaurant called Five. Just like every time he’d come, a mouthwatering lobster ravioli, adorned with shrimp and doused in tomato basil cream sauce, beckoned to Leo.

Yet it was a lot of cream, and he didn’t eat lobster. So, like always, he settled for the pappardelle bolognese.

The next day, he came 1.9 seconds, per MileSplit, from setting the course record at Woodward Park.

“We’re always thinking about, ‘How will this affect my performance? How will this make me feel the next day when I go for my run?’” Lex said. “And I think by internalizing that, you’re able to perform at your best because you’re always thinking about it.”

Life for Stanford commits Leo and twin brother Lex is a calculated string of butterfly effects. One must think a step ahead to run a step ahead. Each decision is weighed in the vacuum of the next day’s training; each hour of sleep is clutched tight; each drop of hydration is fine-tuned, filling their water bottles at each break in classes throughout the day even when they’re not thirsty.

Older brother Nico Young, who blazed trails at Newbury Park and now stars at Northern Arizona University, said being great as a runner comes with a decision — whether you want to go all-in. Now, running’s permeated every aspect of Lex and Leo’s lives — and via the twins’ YouTube channel, “L&L,” they’re trying to inspire others to similarly dedicate themselves.

“They’re not afraid,” coach Tanya Brosnan said, “to push for something more.”

Last cross-country season, Leo broke Nico’s record for the fastest time by a high schooler on a three-mile course, while Lex in May notched the second-fastest 5,000-meter performance in national history during track season.

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With each record they’ve destroyed, each headline constructed, a mystique has built around a Newbury Park program that some labeled as the best boys’ team ever last season. Complaints and message boards have accused the team of pushing its runners to insane weekly mileage totals. Of taking performance-enhancing drugs.

So this October, Lex and Leo posted a video on “L&L,” clickbaiting an audience of nearly 34,000 subscribers.

“Newbury Park’s Secret Workout Revealed … ” the title read.

Surprise: no steroids. No insane regimen. It’s just the twins and teammates waking up at 4:30 a.m., stretching in a pitch-black morning, taking off for a tough run with pace goals.

Distant runners Lex, left, and Leo Young of Newbury Park High have signed with Stanford.

(Luca Evans / VFAB)

The video’s up to 69,000 views.

“Honestly, most of the reason the team has been so successful is, we’re talking about the culture,” Lex said.

“For us,” he continued of the channel, “it’s just about documenting that and giving that as an answer to the question of, ‘Why are they so good?’”

Under former head coach Sean Brosnan, Tanya’s husband who left in the summer to coach at UCLA, Newbury Park instituted a training program tailored to each individual. Intensity is based on quality of recovery, sleep and nutrition. They run 60 miles a week, and each has a purpose.

The twins have bought in fully, pushing in the present of a run, living for the future of the next day.

“We have too many people, even on this team, who are like, ‘I can’t run that fast,’” Tanya Brosnan said. “We say, ‘Let’s run this time in these intervals,’ and they won’t push any faster when we ask them to. It’s like they’re afraid, because, ‘I have four more intervals.’”

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She said the Youngs “are not.”

While their “L&L” channel is at once a lighthearted portrait of their life, it’s also an encyclopedia. They’ve posted videos about what to eat on race day, how to properly recover and product reviews of running shoes. In the same vein, they’ve created their own running-centric clothing brand called Run Fast.

The goal of their platform, the twins say, is to motivate others to follow their same journey, a journey set forth by Nico — that it’s “cool” to work hard. And they want to establish, Lex said, that it’s the same regimen that’s responsible for their success at Newbury Park. Not anything else.

“The performance-enhancers,” father Andrew Young joked, “are good diet and sleep.”

The twins push each other, trying to burst through the mental barriers limiting how fast a 17-year-old can run, finishing one-two at that Clovis Invitational three weeks ago. They’ve raced only a couple of times this season, placing focus on staying fresh for the state meet Saturday at Woodward Park and the national meet Dec. 10 in San Diego to give Newbury Park the best chance at dominance.

“If they went after it, if they really just went loose,” said PrepCalTrack editor Rich Gonzalez, “they would be the best ever in California history.”

At the Southern Section finals this weekend, Lex won the Division 2 race in 14:38.1 at Mt. San Antonio College while Leo was second in 14:38.2 and teammate Aaron Sahlman took third in 14:43.8 as Newbury Park won the boys’ title.

The biggest question Saturday: Who finishes ahead of whom?

“I think both of us, we’re not necessarily incredibly competitive people,” Lex said, interrupted for a moment by Leo.

“Yeah we are,” Leo interjected, smiling. “Don’t lie.”

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