Ledford’s Varner signs with Lees-McRae
Dylan Varner pushes himself hard.
Despite injuries and illnesses, he continued to put in the time and effort to improve on the cross-country course and on the track.
Now that training and perseverance has paid off for Varner, a senior at Ledford, as he has signed to continue his cross-country and track careers at NCAA Division II school Lees-McRae College.
“It’s great,” says Varner, the son of Jeff and Candace, of signing. “Earlier this year, I would’ve never thought it. I didn’t know what I was going to do. And then all these opportunities came to me, it’s just great.”
Varner began running comparatively late, starting on the track team as a sophomore before taking up cross-country as a junior. His dad always wanted him to run track because he was always running around as a kid.
He struggled through shin splints during his junior year that limited him and was sick during the indoor season his senior year. But he enjoyed the competition of running so much that he kept up with it and returned strong each time.
“I’m just a really competitive person,” he says. “Running is one of those sports where you can always have something to improve upon. You’re constantly getting faster and faster and, depending on your work ethic, shaving off minutes.
“It’s just so much more rewarding or exciting than making a 3-point shot or something. Once you push through it and finally succeed, it’s the greatest feeling you can imagine. It’s just that little voice in the back of your head telling you to keep going.”
Varner, who runs the 1 mile, 2 mile, 400 dash, plus the 4x400 and 4x800 relays, finished his senior seasons strong by taking sixth in the Mid-Piedmont 3A Conference in cross-country and teaming to win the MPC in the 4x800.
It wasn’t until the spring that his college plans solidified. Although he narrowed his choices to also include Pfeiffer, Varner remembers well taking a call from Bobcats coach Ley Fletcher asking him to be a part of his team.
“Just getting that call, I’ll never forget how that felt,” he says. “I was so excited that I can’t exactly remember how it went. But the words that stood out were: ‘We’d definitely like to see you out here on the team.’ That’s pretty much where I lost it.”
In choosing Lees-McRae, Varner, who wants to study exercise science, hopes that the team atmosphere plus where the school is located in the mountains will help him reach his full potential in the years to come.
“I still feel like I’m at the opening of what I can do,” he says. “Every day I wake up and I think about how I’m getting closer and closer to that first practice or that first meet. I’m just ready to improve. Just get there as fast as I can.”