Charles “Chick” Werner was head cross country and track & field coach at Penn State University for 29 years, from 1933-62. His cross country teams won three NCAA titles in 1942, 1947, and 1950.
Werner’s career in intercollegiate athletics began as an aspiring high jumper at the University of Illinois. Fellow USTFCCCA Hall of Fame coach Harry Gill convinced Werner to try the high hurdles, and Werner excelled at the event, winning the U.S. title in 1927.
In 1933, Werner accepted the head coaching position at Penn State, where his teams compiled an outstanding record of success. NCAA cross country competition began in 1938, and Werner’s teams finished in the top ten 14 times during his career. His teams were likewise successful at the IC4A level, winning eight IC4A titles in Werner’s career: four in cross country, one in indoor track & field, and three in outdoor track & field.
Werner-coached athletes earned 18 All American honors in track & field and 23 honors in cross country. Four of his athletes won NCAA track & field individual championships, two won NCAA cross country championships, and six competed in the Olympic Games. Perhaps the most famous of Werner’s athletes was Horace Ashenfelter III, one of three Ashenfelter brothers who competed for Werner and ran three legs of a Penn Relays Championship 4×1-mile relay. Horace later became an Olympic Gold Medalist and world record holder in the steeplechase.
In addition to his coaching accomplishments, Werner also served as a Lieutenant in the Navy during World War II. In his last year of coaching before retirement, Werner served as President of the track coaches association (1961-62).