Matt Travalini, by his own admission, didn't have the cross country season he was expecting.

The two-sport star says he got off to a slow start (though the results say otherwise), because he didn't spend the summer concentrating on running. But that didn't deter him from having another phenomenal season. He finished second at the Mt. Washington Invitational to begin the year, a 13th-place finish at Class Ls and 20th at the Meet of Champions. Still, he was dissatisfied.

But now he's turning his attention to basketball. He netted 11.4 points per game last season for the Lancers, who have improved from being "just" a 16-8 team last season.

He talks about both sports, his sports heroes and the odd superstition he shares with teammate Bobby Wunsch in this week's First and 10:

How do you think your running season went?

I think it went all right, considering I played basketball all last year. But going into summer training, I was expecting a little more from myself. I felt like I had run the most miles I had all summer, even with playing summer league basketball, so I thought I'd improve the way I had my sophomore and junior years, but I didn't.

What do you do between seasons? Take it easy or keep training?

We had tryouts Monday and Tuesday, and the first practice was Wednesday. I took about a week off (between seasons) and got right back into it. I've been scrimmaging, I worked out with the coaches and had a few captains' practices.

How excited are you that basketball is right around the corner?

I'm very excited. We have a great team and great opportunity to be very successful, and reach our goals. The guys have done a ton of work in the offseason. We started off in the spring. The guys that were returning started an AAU team, and we all played Hoops for Hope in Andover this summer. A lot of guys kept playing basketball (in the fall), while a few of us were playing other sports.

How's (6-foot-5 newcomer) Ryan Griffin look?

I played with him all summer. He's a great athlete. I'm looking forward to playing with him again. It's been since middle school when we last played together. He does it all (well), because he's so athletic. He rebounds, he's strong, so he takes it to the hoop, he shoots well, he's quick, and he plays defense.

Which sport do you prefer?

It's a tough question. In the fall, I love cross country. But I'm so focused on the one sport when I'm in that season. I wish it was easier to do both, but I can't. Next year, I'm looking pretty seriously at running in college. If I continue to play sports next year, it will definitely be cross country.

Do you have any superstitions?

I do. Before basketball games, me and Bobby Wunsch play a game of FIFA (soccer) on XBOX and we say whoever wins will have the better game that day. Bobby's on the soccer team and he got me into the sport. I went to a few games this year and it was awesome.

Who is your favorite athlete and why?

I'd have to say Paul Pierce. I think he's a great leader for the Celtics, because even when they weren't great, he'd always say the right things and work hard from what I saw.

Who has had the most profound impact on you as an athlete?

I can think of a few guys, but I'd say my older brother, Mike. I always watched him, and he worked real hard at basketball and whatever else he was doing. I tried to be as good as he was, even when I was younger.

What was the last book you read? Was it any good?

"1984" by George Orwell. It was pretty good. Considering it was written in the 1950s, it was futuristic. It sparked some really interesting class discussions. It was pretty interesting to think of if that kind of thing could happen. It kind of made me more philosophical.

Favorites: Food, restaurant, movie, TV show, hobby, subject in school?

Chicken Parmesan; Fire and Ice in Boston; I loved "300," but "Old School" is hilarious; "Entourage;" I'd say listening to music. I'm always downloading new songs, and arranging them on my iPod; Probability and Statistics, my math class.

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