Tokyo Olympics within reach for Michigan teen who smashed HS record


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Breakout phenom Hobbs Kessler is getting ready to become the first Michigan high school student to run in the Olympic track and field trials since 1932.

The 18-year-old from Ann Arbor recently broke a national high school record that was older than he is. At the Portland, Oregon, Track Festival in May, he finished the 1,500 meters with a time of 3 minutes, 34.36 seconds.

“It’s pretty crazy. Like, I saw the time and I was like, ‘That can’t be real.’ It was pretty wild,” Kessler said.

He was 17 seconds faster than Allen Webb’s 20-year-old record and also broke an NCAA record.

“When he crossed the finish line, the display was behind me,” Kessler’s father Michael Kessler said. “I knew he went well under, but I was like, ‘Good Lord.’ Because he went under the Olympic standard. It seems completely unreal.”

Hobbs Kessler followed his record-breaking run by winning his first state championships in the 800 meters and the 1,600 meters at the MHSAA meet in Kentwood earlier this month.

Now, though he knows it won’t be easy, his sights are set on the Tokyo Olympics.

“I have the Olympic standard and I’m going there; might as well treat it like I’m trying to make a Tokyo spot,” Kessler said. “There’s no reason I can’t be going to Tokyo, so I might as well give it a go.”

Kessler will have to make it through three rounds to make Team USA and only the top three will qualify. Maturity and strength usually win out in the trials. Still, his time at the Portland Track Festival was the third fastest by an American this year.

“I would say he’d be long odds, but it would be a good bet,” his dad said, though he added, “not a safe bet.”

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