John Coghlan said his introduction to long-distance running was prompted by someone other than his world-renowned father, Eamonn.
"I used to play soccer, but quit when I was 10 years old," said the 25-year-old from Dublin, Ireland. "A friend of mine stopped by at the house one day and said, 'Let's go running.' My dad didn't have anything to do with that."
Eamonn Coghlan starred at Villanova, was a three-time Olympian, and set a then-world record for the indoor mile run with a clocking of 3 minutes, 52.6 seconds in 1979. He lowered it to 3:49.78 in 1983.
Saturday afternoon at the Penn Relays, John Coghlan handled the anchor leg for Athletics Ireland in the distance medley relay of the USA vs. the World series. With a clocking of 9 minutes, 42.83 seconds, the squad placed third behind the champion United States (9:28.27) and runner-up Australia (9:30.74).
Coghlan, who made his first appearance at Franklin Field, said he developed an appreciation for all his father accomplished while watching some of the VHS highlight tapes that fill a room in the family's Dublin home.
"I'm getting to understand how good he was," Coghlan said. "He was so powerful in indoor races. He had such a tough mind-set, was a great competitor."
John Coghlan was coached by his father until recently. "He'll still go out and run a few miles, but then he might not run for months," he said.
Eamonn Coghlan, 61, is a senator in Ireland and does fund-raising work for Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin.
John Coghlan (split time of 4:05.95 for 1,600 meters) was joined on the track Saturday by John Travers, Brian Gregan, and Paul Robinson. Athletics Ireland coach Brother John Dooley is a regular at the carnival.
"This is my annual pilgrimage," Dooley said. "What makes the Penn Relays so great is its uniqueness, the size of it, and how organized it is. And the crowd, with their energy, really lifts the athletes up."
Odds and ends
Penn State's Michael Shuey took top honors in the javelin with a throw of 234 feet, 10 inches. . . . With a mark of 199-8, Penn's Sam Mattis placed second to Louisiana State's Rodney Brown (210-9) in the discus. . . . Kentucky's Leah Nugent, a graduate of Abington High, placed fourth in the 100 hurdles in 13:29. . . . For the 11th straight year, the three-day attendance total (108,660) topped 100,000.