Nico Young feature interview
NEWBURY PARK -- A couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity to visit with the Newbury Park High School boys cross country team during a pre-season practice. We spoke with head coach Sean Brosnan and senior standouts Jace Aschbrenner and Nico Young.
Newbury Park won the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 title and CIF-State Division II title last fall. Young, one of the nation's elite prep runners, won the individual division title at both of those championship meets and went on to place fourth in the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) in Portland. He is the No. 2 returning runner from that meet.
In addition to the CA divisional titles, Coach Brosnan's boys went on to place sixth at NXN.
All three of the individuals we interviewed say the 2019 version of the NP boys team has the potential to be even better than 2018.
"For us, the main focus is always the State championship and NXN," said Brosnan, in his fourth year coaching the boys (and third with the girls). "Nico is a huge part of that team. It's always nice when you can score one point. It makes it a lot easier. But we have guys right behind him."
"Tommy McDonnell, who barely broke 10 minutes in the two-mile last year and he is not the same kid," Brosnan said. "He is unbelievable this summer; Put some good work in this summer.
"I always say I'll never have a freshman on my team. Last year we had two (Sahlman and Appleford) and I think we have a chance to have a freshman on my team because Nico has two twin brothers that are unbelievable right now. They were both low 4:40 guys in eighth grade. They work hard and they're studs. We're progressing them lightly. They see their brother as a role model, so that's a good thing or sure."
Brosnan is talking about twins Lex and Leo Young. Lex opened his high school career with a stunning 14:42.00 for third in the elite boys 3-mile race at Cool Breeze on the Brookside Golf Club course at the Rose Bowl.
Sahlman, the MileSplitCA Boys Freshman of the Year in 2018, also has a freshman brother getting notice, Brosnan said.
The success of the 2018 season was something Brosnan said he saw coming for awhile, although what he saw on a daily basis did not necessarily translate to a universal observation.
"I saw it last year," he said, "and I see better things this year. But the No. 1 goal is to keep everyone healthy and everyone hungry. If we can do that, I don't think we're shy of the goal this year, it's to win a national title."
While Cool Breeze was the opener for the varsity girls and the boys second team, Newbury Park rolled out the varsity for Thursday's Marmonte League meet. And, as you can imagine, it was a dominating performance led by Nico Young's 14:08.82 on the Peppertree Playgound 3-mile circuit.
Aschbrenner was next in 14:19.51 with Sahlman (15:05.95), junior Nicholas Goldstein (15:10.84) and sophomore Daniel Appleford (15:22.16) giving NP five of the first seven across the line. McDonnell placed 10th (15:38.28) and Lex Young was 11th (15:44.17).
NP had the top five across in the boys JV race, and five of the first six in the frosh/soph race, led by Leo Young (15:56.70). So, yeah, depth.