Placer's next distance star

E.V. Cain eighth-grader already eyeing 1972 Hillmen mile record
By: Ray Hacke, Journal Sports Writer
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As a seventh-grader, Christian Finkbeiner received some words of encouragement from Placer High distance runner Tomas Evangelista. “I told him that once I leave, he’ll take my place and become Placer’s next distance leader,” Evangelista remembers telling Finkbeiner. Considering that Finkbeiner has already taken Evangelista’s place in E.V. Cain Middle School’s record books, that day may be here pretty soon. Now an eighth-grader, Finkbeiner shattered Evangelista’s school record in the mile run at E.V. Cain’s first meet of the season. Finkbeiner’s time of 5 minutes, 5 seconds shattered was seven seconds faster than the mark Evangelista set in 2004. “Tomas and I talk a lot,” Finkbeiner said. “We’re good friends. That’s why I really wanted to beat that record.” Evangelista, who recently became the Pioneer Valley League’s 1,600-meter champion with a time of 4:33 and will compete in the 3,200 this Friday at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet, said he couldn’t be happier that his friend broke his record. “I’m glad it’s broken,” said Evangelista, who is wrapping up his senior season at Placer. “Records are meant to be broken. Whoever breaks it deserves it. It means they worked hard trying to get it like I did.” But Finkbeiner didn’t stop with Evangelista’s mark. Running on Placer High’s track on April 30, Finkbeiner became the first runner in E.V. Cain history to run a mile in less than five minutes, clocking in at 4:56. “I was really surprised,” Finkbeiner said. “It was a windy day, and I really had no competition (to push me). The next runner came in at 5:30-ish.” Running a sub-5 mile had been an elusive goal for Finkbeiner before he ran on Placer’s all-weather track. “I tried to break it on dirt tracks, which is really hard,” he said. “Your feet slip a little bit and you waste time.” The son of ultramarathoners, Finkbeiner has been around running all his life. He said he asked his parents, Bill and Beth, to drive him to Placer’s track on weekends so he could do some speed training. He also did some trail running to build up his endurance and has occasionally competed in local 5Ks as well as duathlons, which include mountain biking as well as running. Besides distance running, Finkbeiner plays soccer, which has also played a role in his ability to run long distances relatively quickly. “It’s a lot of running,” Finkbeiner said of soccer. “(My two sports) kind of help each other in training.” Set to attend Placer this fall, Finkbeiner has his eye on the school’s 1,600 mark of 4:15.1, set by Ron Hyatt — who went on to run collegiately at Indiana University and later coached the Hillmen — in 1972. “It will take a lot of training besides on the team,” Finkbeiner said. Evangelista, for one, thinks Hyatt’s record is within Finkbeiner’s reach. “He’s got a really good chance to break it,” Evangelista said. “It all depends on how much he improves and the time he puts into it, but from the looks of it, he’s got a really good chance. “I haven’t seen too many eighth-graders go sub-5 in the mile.”