Cross country coach leads USA Track at World Indoor
Seton Hall cross country head coach John Moon has left his footprint on Seton Hall athletics, but his recent accomplishments are spanning the globe.
Moon was selected to coach Team USA in March at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships, held in Istanbul, Turkey. Not only did the U.S. compete, they won 18 medals including 10 gold medals. Team USA doubled the medal count of second-place nation Great Britain, who finished with nine.
The U.S. team earned gold medals in seven men’s events, including a new world record set in the heptathlon by Ashton Eaton.
Moon challenged the team to earn 17 medals, and they exceeded his expectations and surprised the international community.
“This goes to show the magnitude of track and field in the United States,” Moon said. “Getting to coach the best athletes in the United States is like riding in a Bentley.”
Moon said the thing that impressed him most was the attitude of his staff and the athletes wearing the red, white and blue.
“Everyone was so eager to wear the USA colors, more so than some other world championships and Olympics. They showed a great deal of patriotism,” Moon said.
He had veterans such as Justin Gatlin and Bernard Lagat speak to the younger members of the team. Lagat led by example during the event, battling through injury to win gold in the 3000 meters.
The championships in Turkey held a special memory for Moon and his assistant coach Norman Tate.
Both participated in 1963 goodwill tours overseas, which included clinics and competition in Turkey.
Moon said that some of the officials in Turkey brought up the old tours at one of the banquets.
“They remembered a guy from the United States who ran there, some guy named Moon,” Moon said.
When they realized that it was the same John Moon who was coaching the current U.S. squad, they shared a laugh and reminisced about the tours.
Wherever Moon goes with Team USA, he brings the Seton Hall name with him.
“Seton Hall may be small in physical size, but it is big in quality and reaches across the world,” he said.
He added that when the national anthem played and the flag was raised, he wished the Seton Hall flag would go up with it, too.
The Seton Hall connection does not stop with Moon.
U.S. sprinter Jernail Hayes, who won a gold medal in Turkey as a member of the women’s 4×400 meter relay, ran track under Moon at Seton Hall from 2006-09.
The head coach of the U.S. team for London Olympics in 2012 is another prot?©g?© of Moon, All-American and Olympic gold medalist Andrew Valmon who ran track at the Hall from 1984-87.
No matter the level of competition, Moon gets excited when he sees his athletes compete.
“When they run, I run with them. I still have that love for running, love of the sport,” Moon said.
Chris Shedlock can be reached at email@example.com.