Eamonn Coghlan was so pumped up that when someone asked him to describe his world best indoor mile run, he began prancing away from the microphone. "I'm so psyched," he said.

With good reason. Coghlan had predicted he would better his 2-year-old indoor record of 3:50.6 (unofficial, as are all world indoor records) here at the Vitalis/U.S. Olympic Invitational, and he did so neatly, in 3:49.78, making 10 laps look like an easy morning jog.

Coghlan stayed in second place through nearly seven laps, which was in keeping with his strategy for the mile. "I knew Ross Donoghue would help me by going for the lead and I planned to stay right on his heels," he said. "All I wanted to do today was to break the 3:50 barrier."

With the pace set by Donoghue, the "designated rabbit," the first quarter zipped by in 56.6. "At the half, I noticed Ross beginning to hesitate a bit. I gave him a nudge and told him to keep going, and then I had to take the lead," he said.

Completing the last quarter in a flat :55, Coghlan began putting more distance between himself and the remainder of the field. "I looked up at the clock and saw that 3:49. I really couldn't believe it," he said.

Coghlan said he was doubly pleased at the victory on the Byrne Meadowlands Arena's 160-meter, fiberglass coated track. "I helped design it, and I broke the world record on it, so now we've got the fastest track in the world here."

Ray Flynn was second in 3:51.20, making him the No. 2 all-time performer in the event indoors, and Steve Scott was third in 3:52.28. Donoghue dropped out after six laps.

Alberto Salazar, who had also predicted he would break the record in the 5,000 meters, didn't even win the event. Doug Padilla, clocking 13:26.26, beat out second-place Salazar, who had taken the lead throughout the early laps.

Carl Lewis, who had won the long jump and 60-yard dash at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, gambled on a chance to repeat that feat--and lost.

Lewis had insisted he would not compete in both events here today. Not so much because the doubled effort had taken too much out of him, but, he said, because he wanted to concentrate on surpassing his long jump world best of 28-1.

Perhaps overanxious in the sprint, Lewis bounded out to a false start before the gun, then did the same thing a moment later. The second false start was appealed, however, and meet officials, reluctant to lose Lewis from this competition, ruled that the start had been a reaction to the sound of camera equipment nearby.

Lewis, who had said last Friday his start had improved, did not show that today. He began slowly and spent too many precious seconds trying to catch Houston McTear in the outside lane.

Although he appeared to catch McTear at the wire, he did not. McTear won and set a meet record 6:07. The Meadowlands clock showed an unofficial time of less than six seconds, but was ignored.

McTear had failed to qualify for Friday night's event, and said his motivation for this one was his own disgust at that. "I really wanted this one," he said.

Lewis ultimately won the long jump with a distance of 27-8 3/4.

Pole vaulter Billy Olson had hoped to get closer to breaking his recent 19-0 3/8 record, but the nearest he could get today was 18-6 3/4 for a meet record.

In the men's 55-meter hurdles, Greg Foster, who finished second in this event to Renaldo Nehemiah last year, coasted to a fairly easy victory in 7:04. Foster's time was far off the world (6.82) and meet (6.89) records, both owned by Nehemiah, but he turned in a quality performance nonetheless.

The University of Richmond relay team, which set a meet record 7:24.16 a year ago, again won the 800-meter relay, but took a bit longer (7:32.6) this time.

Stephanie Hightower, who had lowered the world indoor record for the women's 60-yard hurdles on Friday night (7.36), easily won that event here again, moving to a comfortable lead and even glancing back over her shoulder as she cleared the final hurdle. Her 7.47 established a meet record.