NXN Boys — Surprise Up Front As Newbury Park Defends

To run first man for powerhouse Newbury Park is no mean feat. Aaron Sahlman launched a furious kick to achieve it and notched his first-ever harrier win in a meet where winning truly matters. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

PORTLAND, OREGON, December 03 — Everyone figured that Newbury Park, coached now by Tanya Brosnan, would dominate the men’s race at Nike Cross Nationals, and they weren’t wrong. The surprise for many was which runner led the parade for NP, team winner at the most recent (pre-pandemic) NXN in 2019.

With an icy breeze challenging runners even on a sunny day, the Young twins, as expected, led the NP charge in the early going. Lex went out hard, followed by Michigan’s Hunter Jones (Benzie Central) and brother Leo. At the 1M mark (4:33.5), Leo led a tight pack that included, in order, Tyrone Gorze (Crater, Central Point, Oregon), Lex, Jones, and Devan Kipyego (St. Raphael, Pawtucket, Rhode Island).

In the middle mile, Jones and Kipyego fell off and Gorze moved to the front, indicating that the Newbury Park boys would have to fight hard to get the win. He passed 2M in 9:27.8, more than a second clear of Leo. In 3rd came Aaron Sahlman, who had started the race much farther back in the pack (15th at 1M). Lex ran 4th and in 5th came South Dakota’s sub-4:00 talent Simeon Birnbaum (Stevens, Rapid City).

Leo Young fought his way back to the front and with a kilo to go held a 30m lead on Gorze and Sahlman. With 600 to go, it appeared to many that he had the race locked up. However, Young hit the final set of hills like a wall, and Sahlman, who had been steadily gaining, flew past in a stunning move. He sprinted madly to finish 1st in 14:44.5 as Young faded to 11th. Sahlman slashed more than 7 seconds off Nico Young’s course record of 14:52.3.

Crossing second was fast-finishing Daniel Simmons (American Fork, Utah) in 14:51.7, with Gorze 3rd in 14:53.8. The pack was so tight at the line that Kole Mathison (Carmel, Indiana), Jackson Heidesch (Dowling Catholic West, Des Moines, Iowa) and Birnbaum all crossed in the same 14:55.5.

“I’ve never gotten first in a [XC] race, so I’m super excited,” said Sahlman, who had run as Newbury Park’s third man most of the season. He explained, “It took a lot of heart. I was trying to run my race right behind Lex and Leo and I saw they were falling back a little bit, so I tried to pick it up… I saw Leo right in front of me, so I thought if I just pushed a little harder, pushed up the hill, I could catch him.”

It later came out that the Young twins had been sick prior to the race, and still pursued their aggressive start in order to maximize their team’s chances. Such was their dominance that they defended their title with a 66-point performance, despite Lex Young slipping 31 places in the final mile (he finished as their fourth man). In 2nd came Jesuit of Portland, Oregon, its 152 points just edging Herriman (Utah).



1. Newbury Park 66; 2. Portland 152; 3. Herriman 155; 4. Southern Oregon 171; 5. American Fork 173; 6. Temecula 193; 7. San Clemente 243; 8. Hinsdale 260; 9. West Knoxville 266; 10. Corning 288;

11. Downers North 288; 12. Wayzata 320; 13. Plainfield 335; 14. Miami Havana 349; 15. Stevens Point 353; 16. Livermore 367; 17. Mountain View 367; 18. Lincroft 402; 19. Grapevine 406; 20. Carroll 421; 21. Newtown Square 442; 22. South Huntington 538.


(5K): 1. Aaron Sahlman (Newbury Park) 14:44.5 (course record—old cr 14:52.3 Nico Young [Newbury Park] ’19); 2. *Daniel Simmons (AmFork) 14:51.7; 3. Tyrone Gorze (SnOr) 14:53.8; 4. Kole Mathison (MW5) 14:55.5; 5. Jackson Heidesch (Heartl3) 14:55.5; 6. Simeon Birnbaum (Heartl1) 14:55.5; 7. Noah Breker (Heartl2) 14:55.9; 8. Weston Brown (NW2) 14:56.4; 9. Benne Anderson (MW2) 14:57.2; 10. Hunter Jones (MW4) 14:57.6;

11. Leo Young (Newbury Park) 14:58.2; 12. *Byron Grevious (NE3) 15:00.9; 13. Matthew Donis (Cal2) 15:04.3; 14. Tayson Echohawk (SW2) 15:05.7; 15. Devan Kipyego (NE4) 15:11.2; 16. Noah Jenkins (Herriman) 15:14.4; 17. Alex Garcia-Silver (NW3) 15:20.6; 18. Connor Ackley (MW1) 15:20.9; 19. Collin Gilstrap (NYork1) 15:21.0; 20. Tyler Downs (SW1) 15:21.2;

21. William Horne (Herriman) 15:21.7; 22. Ford Washburn (Heartl5) 15:22.3; 23. Colby King (Heartl4) 15:25.1; 24. Brayden Seymour (Newbury Park) 15:26.2; 25. Nathan Neil (NW5) 15:26.3; 26. *Aden Bandukwala (Hinsdale) 15:28.9; 27. Gus Clevenger (Port) 15:29.4; 28. Dan Watcke (Hinsdale) 15:31.1; 29. Rendon Kuykendall (SW5) 15:31.1; 30. Zack Munson (NW4) 15:31.2;

31. Samy Anderson (NW1) 15:31.4; 32. Connor Burns (MW3) 15:31.5; 33. *Aloysius Franzen (StevensPt) 15:32.6; 34. Aidan Ross (NE5) 15:36.7; 35. Lex Young (Newbury Park) 15:36.8; 36. Jaron Hartshorn (SW3) 15:39.0; 37. Trevor Coggin (WKnoxville) 15:40.3; 38. *Camyn Viger (Plainfield) 15:40.3; 39. Patrick Gandini (NE2) 15:40.3; 40. Conner Rutherford (SE3) 15:40.6. (198 finished) ◻︎