Bowen Varney joined the Louisa Lions’ track team in eighth grade and quickly found his niche as a distance runner, running middle-distance events like the 1,000- and 800-meter races and competing on the Lions’ 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams. Of all the events he competes in, it’s the 800-meter dash that he says he enjoys the most.
“It’s short enough that you can just go, but not so short that you can just sprint,” he said. “It’s a good middle ground.”
Varney was initially recruited by assistant coach Thomas Black to become a pole vaulter, but found his talents were more suited to the track instead. He’s competed in both indoor track in the winter and outdoor track in the spring every year since. He also runs cross country in the fall, to help keep up his endurance for track season.
He’s had success in both sports, competing at the regional and state levels during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Now he’s looking to take his abilities to the next level, having finalized his commitment to run track for the Bridgewater College Eagles.
“I have this drive to just keep getting better,” he said. “I want to be the best that I can be, so I’m going to keep [running track] for as long as I can. If there’s a chance for me to go pro with this, I’m going to take it.”
He’s particularly excited to work with David Cunningham, the Eagles’ head cross country coach and distance track coach. Cunningham competed at the College of William and Mary, then had a short professional track career before becoming a college coach.
“I’m confident that he can help me improve,” Varney said.
Varney will be taking several lessons from his years as a Lion to Bridgewater with him, many of which he learned from long-time Louisa coach Jerry Cutright.
“I’ve learned to trust my coach and to ask questions,” Varney said. “A good coach will answer your questions and after working with Coach Cutright, I’m not going to be afraid to ask questions as a freshman.”
Academically, Varney was drawn to Bridgewater because of its small size and proximity to Harrisonburg, both of which he said remind him of Louisa. He plans to study mathematics and education in hopes of becoming a math teacher.
The thing Varney is looking forward to the most at Bridgewater is just “getting back on the track and racing.”
“The indoor season didn’t end like I wanted it to this year, and with the outdoor season getting cancelled, it’s been a little hard,” he said. “I’m going to go up there and give it all I’ve got.”