Career day for the Coogans

Katrina '11, Margaret '17 and Will '20 all turn in career-best performances on the track within hours of each other. 

Brian Muldoon
January 31, 2020
Phillips Exeter Academy Track Will Coogan

Will Coogan '20 finished second in the mile at the New Balance Grand Prix on Jan. 25 with a personal-best time of 4:14.93. His sisters Katrina '11 and Margaret '17 (pictured below) also set personal records on the same day. 

It is not unusual for a member of the Coogan family to have a strong performance on the track; Katrina ’11, Margaret ’17, and Will ’20 have collected plenty of accolades throughout their respective running careers and have put in a lot of work to expect a high level of success. But the trio all turning in career-best performances on the same day was unprecedented. Until now. 

Each of the siblings set personal records in their respective races Jan. 25. Margaret, who turned in a spectacular prep career Exeter and is now a star at George Washington University, broke the five-minute mark and set a new PR of 4:59 in the mile at the George Mason Invitational.

Katrina, who was an 11-time All-American and two-time NCAA champion at Georgetown before continuing her running career professionally with Team New Balance Boston, placed fourth overall in a stacked field in the two-mile run at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix with a time of 9:36.52.

Meanwhile at the same meet, William earned a second-place finish in a field of the top high school milers in the country with a personal-best time of 4:14.93.

“It was really cool thing,” said Will, who recently committed to the University of North Carolina cross country and track program. “We were all texting each other good luck earlier in the day. I found out Margaret ran a PR earlier in the day so I was really happy for her. She’s having a really great year and running really well. It motivates you to run well, too.”

Many parents might be squirming in their seats watching their kids perform on a national stage, but Mark and Gwyn Coogan '83 — each a former Olympian — are just happy to see their kids doing what they love.

“To me, the success part of what they are doing is pursuing their passions and mostly ignoring the pressure to achieve more conservative forms of success,” noted Gwyn, who is The Smith Family Instructor in Mathematics. “I have a lot of excitement when they run. I trust my kids to give all they can, to learn from whatever happens, and to be gracious competitors.”

“If they are happy and enjoying the running and racing, I am also happy,” added Mark, who is the coach of Katrina’s team at New Balance Boston. “I think that I have taught them that the world will not change if you have a good or bad race. You just go out there and do your best, give yourself a shot. You try to crush everyone when you race but you need to be a good person once the competition is over.”

The Coogan’s competition schedule won’t slow down anytime soon. Will, who qualified for Indoor Nationals in March with his performance, will also be running in the 113th running of the historic Millrose Games on Feb. 8. He's also a leader of the Big Red indoor team. Katrina will continue her training for the U.S. Olympic Trials this coming June, and Margaret has three meets leading up to the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships.

While the dates might not line up for another trifecta of personal bests, the text messages will continue to fly.

“We might start going in at each other at the dinner table a little bit,” said Will, “but on race day, it’s all support.”