Lewis Mills Grad Amy Varsell Concludes Stellar Career at Bentley University. Story by John Torsiello.
Lewis Mills High School graduate Amy Varsell came to Bentley University as a highly-touted short and middle distance runner. But she was told that perhaps her best chance of success at the next level would be in the longer distances in track and in cross-country.
“I was told by many people that I would have more success in longer races in college,” said the Burlington native who graduated from Bentley this past May after doing a post-graduate year. “Although I did do cross-country in high school, I wasn't completely convinced that these judgments were correct. I really, really disliked running distance. The 400-meters was long enough.”
And, she was very good in the short distances in high school. She was Class S state champion in the 400-meter run in 2007, Class M runner-up at that distance the following year, and won a state Class M title in the 400 her senior year. She ran the 400 and 200 throughout her high school career.
“I arrived at Bentley a sprinter,” she said. “After plateauing my freshman year in the sprints, I decided to get serious about moving up in distance. I was sick of not improving and I wanted to see if people had been right all along. I ran more mileage than I ever had that summer and eventually I started to see improvements. I also started to genuinely like training for longer races.”
Her hard work began paying off and despite dreading the longer distances at one point in her career, she began to excel at them.
In the fall of her sophomore year at Bentley she was one of the top runners for the cross-country team and ran the 800-meters for the indoor track team. She then went on to earn Division II All-American status seven times (four times at 800-meters, once at 1,500-meters, once in the mile, and once in cross-country). Not bad for a young lady who hated running distance during her high school career.
“My high school self would never have believed making All-America in cross-country,” she offered. “I was also a member of the first and second Bentley women's cross country teams to qualify for the National Championships.”
She finished second at the 2013 Northeast-10 Conference Women’s Cross-Country Championships in Manchester, N.H. in late October, placing only a second behind Alexandra Stasiuk of AIC with a time of 18 minutes flat. She led Bentley to a third place finish at the meet.
She went on to win the mile run at the Northeast-10 Indoor Championships in February at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, Ma. She posted a 4:58.59, and also bettered the existing meet record in the 1,000-meters, finishing second behind Stonehill’s Emily Anderson, losing by only 14/100ths of a second.
“My final collegiate race was in the mile this past March at the indoor track Division II National Championships in Winston-Salem, N.C.,” she explained. “I had been battling a hamstring injury since mid-season, but I was able to finish fourth at the meet. Although the injury prevented me from accomplishing all of my final goals as a collegiate athlete, I am proud of the progress I made at Bentley. I entered a sprinter and left a seven-time All-American at middle and long distance races.”
Varsell also leaves Bentley, located in Waltham, Ma, the school record holder in no fewer than six individual events; the 400- and 800-meter runs outdoors, and the 400-, 500-, 800-, and 3,000-meter runs indoors.
Varsell was also named to the Academic All-Northeast-10 Conference team for indoor track. She was a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the school in 2013 prior to doing her post-graduate work and continuing her running career. She attained her Master’s degree in accounting this past May.
“I was able to run for Bentley as a graduate student this year during the cross-country last fall and indoor track during the winter seasons because injury left me unable to compete the year prior. I was able to use up my remaining NCAA eligibility for cross-country and indoor track this year, but I did not have eligibility for the outdoor track season.”
After taking some time off to let her hamstring heal she was back at it this past weekend at the Litchfield Hills Road Race, where she finished 34th overall and in seventh place among the women runners.
“I decided my first race as a post-collegian runner would be the Litchfield Hills Road Race. Despite the fact that it is twice the length of the longest race I had ever run, I wanted to see how I would do at the 7.1-mile distance. And since I have lived in Burlington my whole life, I wanted to be part of the local tradition. I ended up surprising myself and was the first local woman finisher and 34th place overall.”
While she is now training for longer races, a typical week for Varsell consists of 50 to 60 miles of road work.
“I follow a pretty basic running training schedule. I do two workouts a week, mile repeats and tempo runs, at race pace and faster. I also do one longer run each week at around 12 to13 miles.”
This September, she will be moving to California to begin a job with Grant Thornton, an accounting firm, in one of its San Francisco bay area offices. “I have plans to run for New Balance Silicon Valley team while I am out there. Until then, I will be running, racing, and studying for the CPA exams.”
Amy Varsell looks like she has some even bigger days ahead of her as a distance runner. Even she wouldn’t have believed that only a few years ago.