EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — 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.
“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.
In other races, sprinter Allyson Felix finished in the top three of her heat of the 200 meters to advance to the semifinals.