Hobbs Kessler Qualifies For US Trials, Sets National Record

At this point, just embrace the greatness. Hobbs Kessler is a legend in the making. 

The Ann Arbor native, who attends Community School -- a public magnet school -- achieved the miraculous on Saturday at the Portland Track Festival, absolutely shattering what seemed-to-be the nearly unbreakable high school 1,500m record once set by Alan Webb in 2001 in 3:38.26, securing the prolific performance of 3:34.36, currently the No. 16 best time in the world.

Kessler re-set the American Junior Record, hit the U.S. and Olympic Trials standard, broke the 20-year-old high school national record, and what's crazy enough ... he even ran faster than the NCAA record that was re-set this year by Notre Dame's Yared Nuguse in 3:34.68.

A high schooler. 

Alan Webb's high school national record for 1,500m was actually en route in 2001. It was then, at the Prefontaine Classic that May, that Webb set the national record mile in 3:51.83.

But Kessler's performance on Saturday, in theory, also would convert to a national record mile. 

It's one thing for a prolific sprint talent to embed themselves into the professional landscape as they compete against pros. That happens from time to time -- it's even happening this year, in the form of Jaylen Slade and Erriyon Knighton

But for an 18-year-old distance runner, who just two years ago ran 4:24.98 for 1,600m, for an athlete who had been developing into the greatest-American-miler-of-our-time in the shadows of a pandemic, this is simply the story by which Hollywood movies are made.

His breakthrough came in February when he broke the high school national record mile in 3:57. 

The U.S. Olympic Trials standard was 3:37.50. The World 'A' standard was 3:35.00. Only five American men have achieved that feat this year, and according to LetsRun, only seven have done it ahead of the Trials. 

Kessler finished fifth in a professional field on Saturday that saw Craig Engels win in 3:33.64. Kessler's final three 400m splits were 58.72, 58.44 and 55.39. 

According to LetsRun, Kessler found himself last with a pack of men with 200m to go. His wheels took over in the final 100m. 

Kessler later told Track and Field News of his time, "I thought the clock was off for a second. It was cartoonish. It just didn't seem real."

Alan Webb didn't have his legendary season in an Olympic year. He would go on to the University of Michigan before turning pro. He eventually made World Championship appearances and reached the 2004 Olympics in Athens. 

Kessler, a Northern Arizona signee, has the potential to qualify in 2021, fresh out of high school.

His backstory is often told. An elite rock climber-turned exceptional high school runner. He's coached by Webb's former coach, the former Michigan head man Ron Warhurst, and Kessler runs and competes quite often with professional Nick Willis. 

This spring, he's been put in fantastic positions to succeed. But he's still been competing against high schoolers all season long. 

In March, he ran the fourth-fastest 2-mile in high school history in 8:39.04. In May, he broke 1:50 for 800m, going 1:49.67 at the New Balance Invitational.

Two weeks later, he set his overall straight 400m PR in 50.09.