THE two-day trials for the Jamaican team to take part in the CARIFTA Games, set for March 28-April 1 in the Bahamas, will start today at the Stadium East complex with the first event expected to go off at 11:00 am.
Thirty one finals will be contested today.
A number of the island's top junior athletes will be seeking to make the 70-member squad, but with the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Championships just over a week away, several top coaches told the Jamaica Observer yesterday they would be rethinking their strategies for this weekend.
Michael Dyke, coach of defending girls' champions Edwin Allen High, said they had no choice but to regroup given the Champs dates, which were brought forward a week to accommodate a FIFA World Cup qualifying match between Jamaica's Reggae Boyz and Panama on March 22.
"The situation can hardly be avoided," Dyke said yesterday. "Based on the schedule, we have to be careful how we manage the athletes and in some cases we will have to forego doubling athletes and just run them in their best event."
Michael Clarke, head coach of defending boys' champions Calabar High, echoed Dyke's sentiments when he told the Observer: "We have to be more strategic with how we handle the athletes...only those who we think have a realistic chance to make the national team will compete for us at Trials."
While the CARIFTA trials will also be used as a qualifying meet, one that will help with the seeding for Champs, Clarke said they won't take any chance with their young charges.
Dyke said it is always good to have their athletes represent the national teams, "so we have to balance that against looking ahead at Champs".
Christopher Harley of Wolmer's Boys said if he had his way he would forego this weekend's trials, but "the boys are really looking forward to the chance of making the CARIFTA team and I don't want to take that away from them, so just one event each".
Neil Harrison of Munro College said his preparation started well ahead of this weekend. "We would love to have the extra week to prepare, but we were aware of the dates and we had to plan accordingly and cut back on some earlier meets."
The highlight of today's schedule will be the 100m finals in all four categories -- Under-17 and Under-20 for both sexes.
The clash between Green Island High's Odail Todd and Wolmer's Boys' Odean Skeen and Bog Walk's Jevaughn Minze in the Under-20 section will be an interesting one.
There will also be finals in the Under-17 3,000m and Under-20 5,000m for boys; 300m hurdles for Under-17 girls and 400m hurdles in the other three age groups, and all four 800m finals, while in the field events another 16 finals down to be contested.