Holly Dobbyn in Stawell Women's Gift semi-final

HOLLY Dobbyn tackles her second Stawell Women’s Gift semi-final today.

The Ballarat 17-year-old raced her way into semi-finals last year, but it was in very different circumstances.

Just as Dobbyn did on Saturday, she progressed by taking out a heat.

She clocked 14.286 seconds in 2013 to be in the middle of the pack among qualifiers for the semi-finals.

This time, though, the Ballarat Grammar School Year 12 student is at the top of the tree

In a much bigger line-up for the women’s gift this year, Dobbyn produced the fastest time of the day in the last of 15 heats.

She ran 13.509 seconds off 11.5m – edging out Ararat’s Sarah Blizzard (13.595) for the quickest time.

For Dobbyn, it is all about now.

With her full focus on today, she struggled to recall her achievements of last year or that this is her third time at Stawell, having only two years ago been contesting little athletics and under-17 events as well as the women’s gift.

On that occasion she was run out in a heat by eventual gift winner Melissa Breen.

Dobbyn almost seemed overawed by her performance on Saturday, as it took time to sink in as her coach Peter O’Dwyer congratulated her and accompanied her back to the athletes’ assembly area.

Dobbyn did not have a lot to say after her success, other than to express satisfaction with the performance.

“It felt good.”

What she does know, though, is how to win a big race.

She did just that in the Ballarat Women’s Gift last year.

Can she do it again today, this time on the biggest stage there is in professional athletics in Australia – Stawell’s Central Park?

She will run in the third semi-final, in which Katie Moore of Kilsyth is the backmarker off 8.75m.

Ballarat’s other semi-finalist Kate Jones has drawn the first of three semi-finals.

She advanced as one of the six fastest heat losers, finishing second to Ararat’s Sarah Blizzard.

Jones (13.25) clashes with the seasoned Kendra Hubbard (6m), who she beat home in the heat, and Maddie Coates (6.25m).

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