When the 41st staging of the Gibson McCook Relays gets under way this Saturday inside the National Stadium, new champions will be crowned in the high school boys Open 4x400m and 4x800m relays as defending champions in both events, St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS) will not be attending the meet. The female team, which finished a close second in the Open 4x400m behind Holmwood ,is also out of the meet. Coach Reynaldo Walcott told The STAR that he will be using the break to give his athletes more time to recover and recuperate after last week’s Western Championships. “The Gibson McCook Relays is a prestigious meet on the athletics calendar, but after competing at the Western Championships last Saturday our athletes are fatigued and worn out and definitely need some time to recuperate. Both meets are too close. We definitely have to make a decision like this,” said Walcott, who believes that there are too many back-to-back meets heading into Champs. “We do take the Western Championships very seriously, and it has become more competitive as several of the schools have stepped up big time, and we do not have the numbers like a Kingston College, Calabar, Edwin Allen and Hydel as it is the same athletes, who are competing at these meets. My boys’ squad only has about 30 athletes and we have to prioritise, as following Gibson McCook, there is Carifta Trials, Digicel Grand Prix, and the ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, and the Western Championships really took a toll on our athletes,” said Walcott. “Naturally, they (athletes) would be disappointed, but they all understood and had no problem with the decision,” Walcott added. Principal of the institute, Keith Wellington, who is also vice-president at ISSA, backed his coach’s decision. “The decision taken is a coaching one as the coach is the technical person and he knows best, and I have no reason not to support him. With so many meets leading to Champs, the decision is to prioritise,” Wellington said. STETHS last year recorded two close victories over St Jago, and fans were anticipating another exciting duel this year with the likes of Kingston College, Calabar, Jamaica College and Petersfield added to the mix in both events. Following their win at the Western Relays in the 4x400m in 3:13.72, they were the top seed in this event going into Gibson, while their second-place time of 7:42.95 behind Kingston College at the Milo Western Relays in the 4x800m event had them as the second seed in this event.