A 1953 graduate of Plainfield High School, Milt Campbell was the first African American to win a gold medal in the Olympic Decathlon at the 1956 Olympics, in Melbourne, Australia, where he set an Olympic record. Four years earlier, he won the silver medal in the decathlon while still in high school at the 1952 Olympics, in Helsinki, Finland. He won the AAU decathlon in 1953 and the AAU and NCAA high hurdles in 1955. In 1957 he set a world record of 13.4 for the 120-yard high hurdles.
He was a standout high school athlete in football and track. He earned All-State honors in football and swimming. In 1952 he was named “Track and Field News” Athlete of the Year. He was inducted into the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1997.
The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Campbell, who attended Indiana University, was drafted in 1957 by the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League. Campbell then played for various teams in the Canadian Football League until his football career ended in 1964.
Milt Campbell belongs to several halls of fame. He was inducted into the Indiana University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1982 and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 1992. Campbell was also inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1999 and was honored in 2012 by the International Swimming Hall of Fame; the only individual to hold a spot in both of these Halls. In 2000, the New Jersey Sportswriters Association named Campbell its New Jersey Athlete of the Century. In June of 2012, he was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. The Plainfield Tsunami Wall of Fame can now be added to this list. In his hometown of Plainfield, NJ, the track at Hub Stine Field has been named after him as well as a park that is named in his honor.
A 1953 graduate of Plainfield High School, Hank Foster won the state championship in the high jump in his senior year. He came to Butler to run track. Although he had never played organized basketball, the coach recognized his potential and invited him to be on the team. He was the first Black basketball player in the school’s history. By his junior season, the 6-4 Foster became the Bulldogs’ starting center. As a senior, Foster won the Andy Williams Award for mental attitude toward teammates, coaches, faculty and studies.
He also became a track champion, winning the 120-yard high hurdles in the Indiana Collegiate Conference for four years in a row and setting a meet record. He also high jumped.
While in college, Foster belonged to Air Force ROTC and later joined the Air Force Reserves. Upon returning to his hometown, he was a social worker and prominent administrator in the Plainfield Public School District.
In April of 1980 and 1981, the Plainfield High School Girls 4x400 meter relay teams made history at the Penn Relays by winning the first two Girls Championship of America 4x400 meter races ever run at the Penn Relays. The Plainfield girls broke the state and meet records twice in the 4x400 in 1980. The Cardinals ran 3:46.3 in its heat, and then broke the NJ and meet record again with a winning time of 3:44.3 in the Championship of America race. The Plainfield girls successfully defended their Championship of America 4x400 title by running 3:51.4 in 1981 to become the only NJ girls team to win two Championship of America races in the 4x400 relay.
The Penn Relays is the oldest and largest relay meet in the United States having been first run in 1895. The 1980 Team consisted of Tracey Carter, Gayle Counts, Dorian St. Clair and Tracy Nelson. The 1981 team consisted of Lisa St. Clair, Wanda Jackson, Tracey Carter, and Tracey Nelson.
A 1965 graduate of Plainfield High School, Ron Upperman went on to star in football and track at North Carolina Central University. He later returned to Plainfield High as the boys head track and field coach from the mid 1970’s to the early 1990’s. During his tenure, Plainfield High School won the Outdoor All- Group State Championship in 1975 & 1976; and was runner up in 1978. “Coach Upp’s” teams and athletes would also win many conference, county, and state championships. In 1981, his 4x400 meter relay team captured the coveted Championship of America title at the Penn Relays. He was also the high school coach of 1984 Olympian John Marshall. Coach Upp is revered to this day by his former athletes, as well as his coaching colleagues throughout the state.
A 1993 graduate of Plainfield High School, Kim Hicks was a High School All-American in the Shot Put. She was ranked in the top ten for all US Women in the Shot Put; an Olympic Trials qualifier and contestant. She was also a Union County and Plainfield High School record holder in the shot put. While in high school, Kim’s teams won several county, conference and state championships both indoors and outdoors.
After graduating from Plainfield High, she accepted a full scholarship to Penn State University, where she became team captain. She would become a Big Ten Conference medalist and an NCAA qualifier. Upon graduating from Penn State, Ms. Hicks worked as an Environmental Consultant and was an assistant track and field coach at Kean University.
A 1993 graduate of Plainfield High School, Nicole Sims won seven state championships both indoors and outdoors in the shot put. She became the first and only girl to ever win four consecutive championships in the Penn Relays shot put. She was a seven-time high school All-American and participated in the 1992 Olympic Trials. Sims is one of only three athletes (boy or girl) from the U.S. to win an individual high school event four times.
Nicole went on to attend Clemson University, where she won six ACC Conference Shot Put titles. She also won the ACC Outdoor Championship MVP in 1995. She qualified for eight NCAA championships and was a two-time Division 1 All-American. She also qualified for the 1996 Olympic Trials.
After graduating from Clemson, Nicole went on to serve in the US Army where she served during the war on terrorism and received an honorable discharge. After serving in the Army, she began a career in public health education dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS in the Black and Latino communities.
A 2001 graduate of Plainfield High School, Chris Stephens is one of the fastest high hurdlersin Plainfield High School history. Chris was a three time Watchung Conference Champion; a three time State Sectional Champion; a three time Group IV Champion; and a two time Meet of Champions winner. Chris was also a three time high school All-American. He was also the US #1 ranked high school hurdler in 2001.
Upon graduating from high school, Chris attended Saint Augustine’s College, where he was a six-time Division 2 All-American, and in 2004 qualified for the Olympic Trials.
Chris is currently the head track and field coach at St. Benedicts Academy in Newark, NJ.