This is Olivia Miller’s tenth column on the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials. She chooses to write about Hobbs Kessler and his superb racing. Olivia will provide us with another piece this week on her favorite moments from Eugene. We have asked Olivia to write a daily column for us remotely on the 2024 Paris Olympics from August 1-11, 2024. She has accepted that opportunity. 

Hobbs Kessler Qualifies for Both the 800m and 1500m Olympic Teams, by Olivia Miller

Bryce Hoppel led from the start. The pack was tight. Hobbs Kessler, who got off to a considerably slower start than his competitors, began closing the gap between the pack and himself. Kessler moved, swinging wide around the pack to sit right on Hoppel’s shoulder just before the bell lap. In the last 200m, Brandon Miller decided to challenge Hoppel to no avail. In the last 100m, Hobbs Kessler surged ahead of Miller, gritting his teeth in the process.

In the end, it was Hoppel, Kessler, and Brandon Miller. Hoppel secured a victory at 1:42.77, a meet record and personal best, just shy of Donavan Brazier’s American record of 1:42.34. Kessler came in second with a personal best of 1:43.64. Miller followed in third at 1:43.97.

Kessler’s impressive performance came just days after his third-place finish in the 1500m, making him the first American since Rick Wohlhuter in 1976 to qualify for the same year’s 800m and 1500m Olympic teams.

In the mixed zone, Kessler expressed surprise at his 800m success.

 “It’s weird. The 800 came so much easier than the 1500, so it feels too good to be true… I view myself as more of a 1500/5000 guy.”

This is a stark change for Kessler, who competed at the trials three years ago in the 1500m but didn’t make it past the semifinals.

Hobbs Kessler takes silver in the 800, photo by Chuck Aragon for RunBlogRun.

He attributed part of his improvement to strength coaches Andy Kay and Pat Henner, who helped him develop his speed.

“Those two really have made a huge difference in my top-end speed, efficiency, running fast, and just many of those 800-specific things.”

Kessler also stressed the importance of being committed to training.

 “Really, at the end of the day, just having a good attitude about training and being super consistent day in and day out is what did it.”

The 21-year-old wants to compete in both events in Paris but has not yet made a definitive decision.

“I’m not sure. I’ve got to talk to the coach and some other people. I think it can be done; I don’t think there’s any overlap, but we’ll see.”

He stressed that his priority was the 1500m.

“I want the U.S. to have the best chance in the 800, and if we deem that as someone else doing it fresh, we’ll let that happen. But we’ll do it if we think I can give it a good effort.”