Saturday spotlight: Wakpala's Rhaecine Sam is truly a South Dakota Rock STAR!


At left is Wakpala’s Rhaecine Sam who shouts words of encouragement to Bison 7th-grader, Lane Krautschun during the 3200 meter run.

By Rich Winter

Outside of Region 8B, the town of Wakpala and the distance running family in South Dakota, not everyone is familiar with Rhaecine Sam. Mr. Sam placed in both the 1600 and 3200 meters at the 2018 state track meet and was 3rd this fall in the Class B cross-country meet.

On Thursday, at the Region 8B meet, Sam did something unexpected during the 3200 meter run that had coaches patting him on the back, fans in the stands crying and a young man from Bison with a lasting impression of a high-school senior that offered the ultimate pat on the back.

So, entering the 3200 meters Thursday, Sam had already pre-qualified in the 1600 and 3200 (this weekend he’ll be contending for state titles in both). Earlier in the day he’d won the 1600 (4:43). He wasn’t happy with the time….every meet this year for Sam there hasn’t been much competition and every meet, WIND!

Seed times for the Region 8B 3200 coming in…

Rhaecine Sam - 10:13

Lane Krautschun 10:54

Krautschun is only a 7th-grader but with coach Brad Burkhalter regularly cultivating elite distance talent, Krautschun’s running a 10:54 3200 as a 7th-grader suggests he may one day be a tremendous runner.

So, as the race started, Sam didn’t go to the front…He felt moved to do something different.


I felt the need to do something for the younger ones show them how it is too run against us bigger guys and I knew I already qualified and there was going to be no one sticking close to me so….soon as the race started I just thought this kid was nice, young and wanted to run hard so I made him come with me.

“He asked why I did that and I told him that I already done did my part in qualifying for state and God wants us to help one another even if it’s hard to do so.

Side by side the pair ran with Sam occasionally talking to his Bison foe. Midway through the race fans figured out Sam was coaching. On lap six, Krautschun fell behind but Rhaecine kept looking back and waved him back up with him.

From a new HUGE fan of Rhaecine Sam’s who was at the meet:

“On lap 7 he was coaching, cheering, clapping & pushing him to keep going.”

Rhaecine let Lane finish first.

“You should have seen the huge hug those two shared. There were a bunch of coaches & athletes on the sideline who met him and shook his hand and patted him on the back for what they had just witnessed. Rhaecine was walking away and ‘little’ Lane caught up to him again and gave him another hug.”

1st - Lane Kratschun - 11:19.27

2nd - Rhaecine Sam - 11:19.37