Fafard and Traffie leading the way

Ask Mascenic cross-country coach Mike Smith about his stars, Tim Fafard and Avery Traffie, and he’ll tell you they have one very odd thing in common – they aren’t fast.

“(Fafard) is probably the slowest guy on the planet,” Smith joked in an interview this week. Yet, through hard work, determination and a knack for powering through the toughest, longest runs, the two young Vikings have positioned themselves for a shot at the top spots in the state.

Fafard has had a great junior season, never slowing down after claiming the third spot in DIII and seventh place in the Meet Of Champions last year. He’s easily Mascenic’s top runner, although he’s a bit of a reluctant leader.

“Sometimes I wish I wasn’t the fastest person on the team,” the soft-spoken Fafard said. “Then I wouldn’t have to work so hard. The pressure’s a little bit higher because everyone’s expecting you to be at the top, to be first most of the time.”

You’ll find Traffie nipping at Fafard’s heels during most of those first-place finishes. Just a sophomore, the diminutive Traffie might have been the alpha dog on another team, but with Fafard in his way, he’s had to settle for second place – a lot.

“He’s probably finished second more than he finished anywhere else,” Smith said, “which is pretty telling when you’ve got Tim in front of you. He’s beating everyone else’s best guy.”

Traffie said that having Fafard in front of him has helped push him to the next level. Not “genetically-blessed with speed” himself, according to Smith, he’s had to train hard to get where he is today. That work ethic has paid dividends for both Traffie and Fafard.

“He’s been easy,” Smith said, “knowing that he’s not fast and he has to train. It’s been an aide to Tim; he hasn’t necessarily had to train to be good, and now he sees this other kid that’s working hard and improving.”

Fafard and Traffie made up the entirety of the Viking boys cross-country team last year; the duo has since been supplemented with a stable of track recruits that have rounded out a solid overall squad.

“Even though we have a lot of first-comers to cross-country, we still have a really good team,” Traffie said.

Fafard and Traffie will lead those new Viking runners into the DIII meet this Saturday. They’ll face stiff competition, particularly in the form of Inter-Lakes’ Cam Daly and Hopkinton’s Dominic Repucci (“It’s going to be a battle this year with those two guys,” Fafard said), but the two Viking leaders are confident in their team.

“Come states, if everybody runs the way they’ve been running, most likely we’ll be in the top five,” Fafard said. Traffie chimed in right behind him, as always. “There’s something about it that makes you want to work harder.”

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