“Newy Runners” squad heading to Stawell on their way to Nationals

Date: 25th March 2024

According to coach Tim Eschebach who is travelling with his group of five athletes from Newcastle to Stawell next weekend; “The main aim for the squad is to get some hard racing in 10 days from Nationals, to enjoy the atmosphere of Stawell and hopefully win a sash!”

“We are looking forward to the weekend,” Tim told us. “We’ve been busy. We have seen some quality results heading into Stawell. So hopefully we can bring our best performances with us.”

Jemma Pollard, the highly rated 400m runner will run off a handicap of 8.75m in the Change Our Game Women’s Gift following her win at the Keilor Gift. 

Jemma’s goal this year is to gain selection to run in the u20 World Championships for 400m,” said Tim.

“Jemma is back from Brisbane where she ran with the Australian women’s 4x400m relay team to run the world relay qualifier. They ran 3.30.66 ranking them 26th. (They need top 32 to be in the quota for World Relays),” he added proudly.

Grace Hewitt, who is on a handicap of 5.5m in the Change Our Game Women’s Gift after winning the Terang Gift ran a lifetime best in the 200m at the Country State Champs, placing 3rd. 

“Grace’s goal has been to compete at Open and Uni nationals in 100 and 200m and to make the Stawell Gift final,” said Tim.

Grace ran the 200m at NSW State Champs in a personal best time of 24.11 claiming the U23 gold and Open silver medals so let’s see how she gets on with her second goal of reaching the final next Monday!

Ben Esquilant has just returned to sprinting after three years playing soccer. He competed at his first pro race in Sydney at the Jack Giddy Gift. 

“Ben will compete at Stawell for the first time and is running well, we are aiming for him to make it out of the heats in one of the events he has entered,” said Tim.

Joseph Bradshaw is hoping to reach the semis in Stawell and to qualify for Nationals in the 400m. “Jo has recent form in running a 400m pb and winning gold at the Country State Champs in January and running 3rd at the Macksville Gift.

“Jo ran and equal pb in the 400m of 48.62, ending up 14th in NSW State Opens (6th in B final).”

Nicole Ogle is returning from injury this season. “She has been running consistent 400m. She hopes to progress out of a heat like she did in her last appearance in Stawell in 2021. Nicole ran 6th in the B final at NSW State Opens in a season best 58.73.”

Coach Tim is himself a 2x Stawell Gift finalist in 2013 and 2015. He has also won the 200m in 2012 and was runner up in that event in 2014.

He believes it’s important for amateur athletes to try pro running and that the Stawell Gift gives everyday athletes a chance.

“Pro running gives athletes three rounds of racing in the same day, so it’s great prep for State, National International level comps. Starting off marks also really allows them to have fun and just race people with less pressure on the times and outcomes.

“The Stawell Gift gives passionate everyday athletes a chance at taking on the best in the business. I love being a part of the long history and close connection with country athletics.”


Image from left to right: Sam Taylor, Jo Bradshaw, Jemma Pollard, Grace Hewitt, Summah Harrison, Dinush Wickremaratchy, Rhys Dobbins and Tiahna Skelton.


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