Ann Arbor teen middle-distance runner Hobbs Kessler turns pro, advances in Olympic trials

Associated Press

Teenage middle-distance runner Hobbs Kessler recently elected to turn professional and sign a deal with Adidas.

Kessler ran his first race in his new shoes during the first round of the 1,500 meters at Hayward Field. He finished in 3 minutes, 45.63 seconds to win his heat and advance to Saturday's semis.

Hobbs Kessler

“It hasn’t sunk in, and I don’t know how long it will take,” Kessler said of being a professional. “It’s pretty amazing, and I’m very grateful.”

The 18-year-old Kessler from Michigan recently broke Jim Ryun’s American under-20 record with a time of 3:34.36 at the Portland Track Festival. Ryun’s mark had been on the books since 1966.

Kessler said the decision to turn pro was stressful.

“Weighed on me for a long time,” Kessler said.

More local Olympic hopefuls

It was a mixed bag for local competitors in the men's 5000 prelims. Grand Blanc's Grant Fisher — who'd already made the Olympic team in the 10k meter — and Michigan State's Morgan Beadlescomb advanced to Saturday's semis as Willy Fink, formerly of Eastern Michigan, failed to qualify for the next round.

Kyra Jefferson of Cass Tech finished 11th with a season-best time of 22.57 seconds to advance to the semifinals in 200 meters.

Former Michigan State Spartan Lauren Chorny just made the cut for Saturday's women's pole vault final, finishing with the 12th and final spot during the prelims on Thursday.

Ex-Spartan Leah Folland finished ninth in the women's 3000 meter steeplechase final, meeting the Olympic standard to qualify for Tokyo.

Central Michigan's Quiara Wheeler did not make the cut in women's hammer throw, finishing in 20th place out of 24.

Ex-Wolverine Taylor McLaughlin was ousted from the men's 400 hurdles, finishing with a did-not-start.