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Mascenic

They’re under the hood,  and on top of the state 

Mascenic students win N.H. competition, gear up for nationals

  • Two Mascenic students will head to a national automotive competition in Deerborn, Michigan this weekend, to compete against 98 other students from across the country for scholarships.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Two Mascenic students will head to a national automotive competition in Deerborn, Michigan this weekend, to compete against 98 other students from across the country for scholarships.
    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Two Mascenic students will head to a national automotive competition in Deerborn, Michigan this weekend, to compete against 98 other students from across the country for scholarships.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Two Mascenic students will head to a national automotive competition in Deerborn, Michigan this weekend, to compete against 98 other students from across the country for scholarships.
    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Mascenic students Duncan Fafard, left, and Peter Somero, both of New Ipswich, will head to a national automotive competition in Deerborn, Michi., this weekend, to compete against 98 other students from across the country for scholarships.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Mascenic students Duncan Fafard, left, and Peter Somero, both of New Ipswich, will head to a national automotive competition in Deerborn, Michi., this weekend, to compete against 98 other students from across the country for scholarships.
    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Two Mascenic students will head to a national automotive competition in Deerborn, Michigan this weekend, to compete against 98 other students from across the country for scholarships.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Two Mascenic students will head to a national automotive competition in Deerborn, Michigan this weekend, to compete against 98 other students from across the country for scholarships.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Mascenic students Duncan Fafard, left, and Peter Somero, both of New Ipswich, will head to a national automotive competition in Deerborn, Michi., this weekend, to compete against 98 other students from across the country for scholarships.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

NEW IPSWICH — After dominating the competition at the state level, the two top students in Mascenic’s Automotive Program will be facing an even bigger obstacle Tuesday , when they’ll be competing against 98 of the nation’s best automotive students in a hands-on written and diagnostic challenge: The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skill competition.

Competition is stiff, and not just when it comes to the other automotive students in the state. Peter Somero and Duncan Fafard, both of New Ipswich were also up against their own classmates for the coveted chance to participate in the competition. Somero and Fafard, along with two other students, did extra training outside of class with Automotive Instructor Vince Fittante to prepare for the regional and state competitions. In the end, it came down to simple numbers. All four students were given a written test by Ford AAA Autoskills, and it was Somero and Fafard who nabbed the highest scores, eking out ahead by just a few precious points.

“It literally came down to one or two points when it came down to selecting which student was going to be part of the team. They’re all deserving, and I didn’t care which went in. They were all capable of doing a good job. For me doing a good job is bringing in first place,” Fittante said in an interview at the Mascenic Automotive shop last week. .

During the state competition last month in Epping , the two students were up against nine other New Hampshire teams. At the same time, students from Vermont and Maine were holding their own competitions, although it was only the teams from New Hampshire that Somero and Fafard were actively competing against. However, it wouldn’t have mattered even if the two were up against all 29 other teams there that day. They were the first to get their car running, the first to close the hood, and the first to have their car submitted for official judging. They were at least 10 minutes ahead of the next team — one from Vermont — and more than half an hour faster than the next New Hampshire contestants. And their speed didn’t detract from their overall performance, with their car deemed perfect after their speedy diagnostic.

“The people watching for our team, noticed we weren’t talking to each other when we were doing it,” said Somero in an interview at the Mascenic Automotive shop last week . “We only talked when we had to communicate. He knew what he was doing, I knew what I was doing. We were working as a team to finish the project faster.”

In New Hampshire, only three cars finished their diagnostic within the 90-minute time limit, said Fittante, which shows how difficult the competition is. But Somero and Fafard finished the job in just over 35 minutes, which only shows how prepared they were for the challenge, he added.

The two walked away with up to $40,000 in scholarship offers, as well as bragging rights. But it’s just the beginning for them, because on Tuesday, after walking with their class at graduation, the two will be flying out to Deerborn, Mich., to compete again — representing New Hampshire at the national level this time. They’ll be taking another written test in advance of the competition, and each wrong answer will detract 15 seconds from the amount of time they’ll have to work on their car. Each state will be sending its top two contenders.

“I’m a little nervous,” Fafard said. “They’re coming from all different states, so you don’t know what the programs are like in Los Angeles or the big car centers like Detroit.”

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