By Garrett Zatlin - MileSplit Recruiting Correspondent
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The first major domino of the 2023 recruiting season has fallen.
Or should I say, dominoes.
That's because on Sunday, Newbury Park High School stars Lex Young and Leo Young announced that they will both join the Stanford men next year.
That's a big catch for the Cardinal.
If you're not familiar with the resumes of these two megastars, let's get you caught up to speed.
On the track, Lex has run phenomenal times of 4:01 in the mile, 7:57 for 3,000 meters, 8:35 for 3,200 meters and 13:43 for 5,000 meters on the track.
His twin brother, Leo, has largely similar marks. He has run times of 4:00 for the mile, 8:39 for 3,200 meters and 14:05 for 5,000 meters on the grass.
Leo and Lex also placed second and third, respectively, at the 2021 Garmin RunningLane XC National Championships last fall.
To put it simply, Leo and Lex Young are among the most valuable distance recruits the country has to offer. Their accolades have put them closer to the "all-time greats" category and they still have a full year of high school competition left.
When it came to recruiting, speculation throughout the running community was that Lex and Leo would attend either UCLA or Northern Arizona.
Last week, their former Newbury Park coach Sean Brosnan made his departure official when he announced that he would be joining UCLA as the team's newest distance coach.
The convenient timing of Brosnan's move, paired with the fact that UCLA holds prestigious academics and is only an hour away from Newbury Park, gave the Young twins numerous reasons to give the Bruins a shot.
Then there was Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks also owned high odds to secure a commitment from this superstar duo.
Nico Young, Lex and Leo's older brother, had joined NAU two seasons ago and has since gone on to incredible success there, posting a time of 13:11 for 5,000 meters this past spring, not to mention efforts in the 1,500m (3:37.75), mile (3:56.00), 3K (7:59.02). He's been a staple for NAU in their championship hunts across all seasons.
On top of that, Newbury Park graduate Colin Sahlman is joining the Lumberjacks this fall, too. So to say that Lex and Leo are familiar with Northern Arizona would be an understatement.
Then again, Stanford probably isn't a big surprise, either. The school is fairly close to Newbury Park, boasts prestigious academics and has a young cross country squad that could be primed to win a national title over the next few years.
Still, UCLA and Northern Arizona had personal ties to the Young brothers and that's why it seemed like the Cardinal were a distant third candidate, at least from an outsider's perspective.
But let's get into how their decision could change the landscape of the NCAA.
Not only did Stanford secure the commitments of the two best distance recruits in the Class of 2023, but the Cardinal did it at a time when their roster is positioned to win national team titles.
In the eyes of most, Stanford has among the best scoring trio in the nation when it comes to cross country. Better yet, the three-headed monster of Cole Sprout, Charles Hicks and Ky Robinson will still hold multiple years of cross country eligibility by the time Lex and Leo join the team -- barring any one of the three goes pro before that time comes.
On paper, Stanford is a team that could contend for NCAA gold.
However, as it currently stands, the Cardinal men don't seem to have a varsity lineup that is as complete or as deep as what Northern Arizona brings to the table.
With Lex and Leo, Stanford inches closer to bridging the gap.
Of course, there are still tons of talented names on Stanford's roster who could allow this team to be nationally competitive even after Robinson, Hicks and Sprout finish their eligibility.
From incoming recruits like Zane Bergen, Gavin Sherry and Callum Sherry, to names like Galen and Nolan Topper and Robert DiDonato, the men's team will sport depth.
By choosing Stanford, Lex and Leo added firepower to a team already contending for a national cross country title.
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that Stanford could compete for an NCAA crown this season with Hicks, Sprout, Robinson and others, perhaps even a stud freshman or two.
Most college commitments don't dramatically change the landscape of future national title battles. Perhaps this one does.
But then again, Lex and Leo aren't like most recruits.
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