Frenship fourth-grader on the move

Rick Sampson came in fourth in the 5 kilometer Harvest Festival adult race with a time of 22:50.

Rick Sampson, 9, is already racking up racing cards and awards from distance running.

That’s just 2 1/2 minutes behind the first-place finisher from Frenship High School, Cade Speed.

Then Rick came in first in the Harvest Festival 1-mile Fun Run against other fourth- and fifth-grade boys. Melissa Castleberry, a Wolfforth Chamber of Commerce official working the race, said he blew out the competition in the Fun Run race.

Then the fourth-grader went on to play forward and defense in two soccer games in the Upward Soccer League on the Cameroon team.

All in the same Saturday.

“When we got home, I didn’t feel tired. But after an hour or so, I was crashing,” said Rick.

Rick is a fourth-grader at Oak Ridge Elementary School.

His parents, Stuart and Yuriko Sampson, say as a young boy in Hong Kong, their apartment was on a hill. In the time it took them to walk up the hill, Rick could run up and down the hill twice, carrying a backpack full of water they mistakenly thought might slow him down a bit.

Rick said he has liked to run for a long time. He first enjoyed sprints, but has been training in distance running for the past year.

Three or four times a week, he wakes by 6 a.m. to run four miles on the track at Oak Ridge.

On other days of the week, he is generally running while playing soccer for Cameroon. Each of the Upward Soccer teams is named for a country, he said.

Rick doesn’t know much about Cameroon. But having been born in Japan, he is fluent in Japanese and English. He lived in Hong Kong for five years, and has also visited Sweden, Finland and Thailand.

“Most of my life was spent out of America,” he said. He just turned nine years old last weekend.

His classmates might enjoy running, Rick said, “but not as much as I like it.”

To date, he has run nine races. In those with age divisions, he has won all of them in his own division.

When he is not running or playing soccer, he also enjoys playing with trains and Legos. Trains fascinate him because he rode several in other countries, he said.

“When you’re on a train, you get to see other trains go by, you get to see the whole world,” he said.

Maybe, just maybe, he might combine his love of travel someday with running in the Olympics, he said. He hopes to continue racing for the foreseeable future.

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