Windham hosts 33rd annual Haddad Invitational

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Windham - posted Tue., Sep. 20, 2011
Runners head off at the start of the freshman girls' race at the Haddad Windham Invitational on Sept. 17. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Runners head off at the start of the freshman girls' race at the Haddad Windham Invitational on Sept. 17. Photos by Melanie Savage.

A total of 81 schools from all over the state were represented at the 33rd annual Haddad Windham Invitational, hosted Sept. 17 at Windham High School. The event was renamed in 2009 for former Windham Invitational meet director and retired cross-country and track coach Bob Haddad, who has suffered from Parkinson's disease for many years.

According to Coventry High School cross-country coach Ed Grace, former Windham High School assistant principal Steve Merlino had a lot to do with keeping the event going, after it was almost discontinued. Merlino was recently hired by Coventry after being let go in a controversial move by Windham Superintendent Ana Ortiz. “It’s a win for us,” said Grace. “Steve Merlino is an asset to our system.” According to Grace, Merlino helped to organize the drive to keep the event in Windham and name it after Haddad. “We’re pleased to be associated with anything carrying Bob Haddad’s name,” said Grace.

For Grace, the event resulted in a personal triumph, as well. His son, Adam, a student at Coventry High School, placed first in the freshmen boys’ race. “That was one of the most intelligent races I’ve seen a freshman race, ever,” said Grace, who has been coaching the Coventry program for 12 years.

Annmarie Tuxbury, of Northwestern Regional, had the fastest girls' time of the day, winning the Varsity 3 race in 18:14. Muad Hrezi of Naugatuck won the Varsity 1 race in 15:42, the fastest boys' time of the day. Winning team titles were: Varsity 1 - girls, NFA; boys, Simsbury; Varsity 2 - girls, Cheshire; boys, Amity; Varsity 3 - girls, Thomaston; boys, Valley Regional. Chrissy Bendzinski from RHAM had the second-fastest time for Varsity 1 girls at 19:00.


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