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Chase Varner breaks school record at PIAA track

Friday's race was a long time coming for Southern Fulton junior Chase Varner.

Ever since eighth grade, Varner has been looking to get his name in the Indian record books. His potential was realized by his coaches as a freshman, and since then, Varner has been getting stronger and stronger, and faster and faster.

It all culminated in success at the PIAA Track & Field Championships, where Varner powered through the excruciating heat to finish the Class AA boys 800 dash in a mere 2:01.05. The time broke a record that stood for three decades - since Eric Ziemba clocked a 2:01.16 back in 1986.

"It's really an honor," Varner said. "I've been trying to get my name on the board. I've aspired for it since I joined track in eighth grade, and I've tried to work my best for it, stay in shape throughout the year, and when track rolls around, I get determined to do it."

Varner is a four-sport athlete for the Indians, playing soccer and running cross country in the fall then taking to the basketball court during the colder months. He's competed at the state level in two of those sports, but it wasn't until this season that he got to Shippensburg University.

"(Those sports) most definitely help," Varner said. "My dad is the coach (in soccer) and definitely doesn't take it easy on us. There's a giant hill near the track (at SF), and he sends us up and down at least five times at practice. Then basketball, well, you know coach (Kent Hendershot). He's always on us, and it definitely helps."

Physically, Varner knew he was ready. He's been cutting time off his 800 all season, and was victorious at the District 5 Championships, clocking in at 2:01.53 — less than a half second from his ultimate goal.

"I felt it was more mental going into states," Varner said. "Physically, I knew I already had the training to break the school record, so it was just about mentally preparing to do it. I had to get ready for that pain on the second lap and just do it."

With one year left before graduation, Varner has his sights on breaking the 2:00.00 mark and returning to states for another chance at the podium.