The victory lap: Penicks set to retire from track coaching after 2018 season

BCLUW girls track and field coach Theresa Penick (left) and her husband Les (right), the boys coach, are retiring after the 2018 season. Between the junior high and high school levels, the couple has coached the sport for over 50 years combined. (Robert Maharry/The Grundy Register photo) 

Les and Theresa Penick swear that they’re going to relax one of these days. They just haven’t fit it into their schedules yet.


“We’re so busy and focused on what we want to accomplish this year (that) it’s kind of hard to take time and reflect,” Les said.


Even as the husband and wife prepare to walk away from coaching and teaching together after over 30 years, it’s hard for them to get too sentimental: due to the snow, Les is working indoors with prospective BCLUW long jumpers in the high school gym, and Theresa is drilling her girls on a frigid Monday afternoon in Conrad.


Les, a Carlisle native, and Theresa, who grew up in Algona, met each other at the University of Northern Iowa in the 1980’s and moved to Beaman right out of college (they’re now in Conrad)—Mrs. Penick took a job at BCLUW, and Mr. Penick started at GMG, where he also coached track and field, for his first six years. Les became a Comet once and for all in 1992, and since then, he’s served as the head football coach for 16 years, assistant and later head boys track coach for 26 years, head baseball coach for three years and an assistant basketball coach.


Always tough but always fair, the Penicks have been demanding at times as they adhere to the slogan “tradition never graduates.”


“You don’t really want to do a lot of the stuff at practice, but you do it because it makes you better,” junior Olivia Hughes said. “(Theresa) helps you understand that, and she knows what you should do all the time.”


The banners on display at the high school show that they have achieved their goals and then some, with multiple conference and district titles (seven in nine years for the boys), a 2006 boys team state title, and a host of individual champions proving themselves on Iowa’s biggest stage at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. 


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