This story is part of a series of profiles the Ventura County Office of Education is presenting about outstanding graduating seniors in the Class of 2020.
Newbury Park High School track and cross country star Nico Young isn’t used to standing still. In the past two years, he’s racked up an incredible series of victories, shattering records along the way. As a junior, he set a meet record in the 3,200 meters at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational. And at the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) in Portland in December, he set a course record and led his team to a national championship. He’s widely considered one of the best high school runners in the nation.
But these days, amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, this champion is adapting to a slower pace of life. Because of the coronavirus, his plans to tackle even more records will have to wait. “Basically, the entirety of the track season has been canceled,” he says. “That was super disappointing because I was planning to run a lot of the same meets as last year and to go after some of those records.”
Nico’s running career started when he was six years old and a family friend noticed his speed while he was playing in the yard. Injuries at the beginning of high school slowed him down for a while, but that was followed by his meteoric rise. With school campuses closed due to the coronavirus, Nico still makes the effort to work out and run every day to keep up his skills. But he says training by himself without his coach and teammates just isn’t the same. “That plays a much bigger role than most people realize because it’s basically your whole support system,” he says. “It’s what makes you want to go back every day and it’s definitely a lot harder without them.”
To help fill his down time, Nico is honing his skills in the kitchen. He’s taken up baking in a big way, cooking up a variety of delicious recipes including sourdough bread, pumpkin scones and coconut bars. “I’ve been posting them on my social media so other people can make the same things that I’m making and to kind of give people something to do right now.” If you want to try some of his favorite recipes, you can find them at this link.
This star of the track is also no slouch in the classroom – he’s one of Newbury Park High School’s valedictorians this year. And while he’s disappointed traditional graduation ceremonies had to be cancelled, he’s excited about the future. This fall, he’ll be attending Northern Arizona University, which has top ranked programs in track and cross country. He says the ultimate achievement in his running career would be to win an Olympic gold medal. And based on his impressive record so far, it’s a safe bet he’ll achieve that dream.
More Stories about the Ventura County Class of 2020
Destiny Sausedo - Ventura High School
By the time she was sixteen, Destiny Sausedo had lived through the death of her brother in a drive-by shooting and the loss of her mother to a drug overdose. Before she died, her mom was often incapacitated by drugs and Destiny was her primary caregiver.
Jesus Martinez - Hueneme High School
Jesus Martinez remembers taking trips to Malibu with his mom when he was younger – not to enjoy the beach or the restaurants, but to help with her job cleaning houses and hotel rooms. “I grew up fast and I lost a lot of my childhood because I had to work at a really young age,” he says.
Jonah and Kelsie Hoj - Nordhoff High School
For Jonah and Kelsie Hoj, high school was a family affair. They both attended Nordhoff High School in Ojai along with their older sister. And both of their parents are teachers at the school – dad teaches history and drama, mom teaches dance.
Diego Mosqueda - Gateway Community School
Things were going great in Diego Mosqueda’s life until the start of his junior year when his dad became seriously ill without warning. “I was thinking that my life can’t get any better than this," he says.
Jamie Gregory - Santa Susana High School
When Jamie Gregory was 11, her beloved uncle Jimmy died of a heroin overdose at the young age of 31. "I was super close to my uncle," she says. "It was really hard for my whole family because he was battling drug addiction for years."
From the Superintendents
The leaders of Ventura County's school districts share their messages of congratulations for their graduating seniors in this most unusual year.