SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. -- Graduation is next week, but athletic and academic recognitions never stop.
Tuesday morning, South Plainfield High School seniors Samantha Pullen and Hallie Bisgaard, their coaches, and families met with TAPinto South Plainfield and discussed their career as Tigers and future endeavors.
Pullen will be a part of the track and field team at Wagner University while Bisgaard will bowl at New Jersey City University.
“I liked how close it is and they are also D-I, so that’s pretty good,” Pullen said. They were willing to take me last minute. I had a lot problems because at the last minute. I didn’t like or want to go to New Haven anymore and I had to figure out somewhere new. They also had my dental major.”
Needing a school to attend after a visit to New Haven left a bad taste in her mouth, her coaches reached to Wagner and the Seahawks were sky high.
“Wagner was basically like, ‘Yes, please come here’. They were very excited,” SPHS track coach Chris Fish said.
Pullen also played soccer while competing in both winter indoor and spring outdoor track as a Tiger. Once she started track, she ran with it, and excelled at it.
“When I was little, I would play soccer a lot and I was told I was really fast and I should do track. I did it in middle school and my coaches thought I should try long jump,” Pullen said. “I kept getting better at it and coach Fish helped shape me into the athlete I am now.”
Pullen holds two school records in the long jump - one outdoor and one indoor. Her leap of 16-2.5 feet at the Meet of Champions this past February in Toms River is the all-time mark indoors. She also has a mark of 18-1.5 she recorded outdoors at the Group 2 meet last season.
Aside from her jumping ability, and speaking of running fast, she was able to use that gift and help the Tigers notch records in select relays as well. Pullen ran in the 4x200-meter relay at the Group 2 winter meet this past January and helped the Tigers finish in eighth place with a school record time of 1:51.54. At the Demarest Invitational in December of 2018, she kicked off the program record time of 4:26.40 in the 4x400.
Outdoors, Pullen ran second as part of South Plainfield’s best time in the 4x100 relay at the Central Jersey, Group 2 sectionals a year ago. Pullen and three others clocked in at 50.47. At the Middlesex County relays in May of 2018 at South Brunswick, Pullen helped the Tigers run a school record 1:50.20 in the 4x200. Pullen was also a member of the Tigers 4:35.22 timed run in the sprint medley relay at the Middlesex County Relays earlier this spring.
During the outdoor season over the course of the last couple of months, Pullen essentially tied for first place at the GMC Championships, but took second based on the judge’s discretion in the long jump with a leap of 16-09.50, and won the long jump at the Central Jersey, Group 2 championships with a best jump of 17-02.75. She took sixth at the Group 2 overall meet.
“She was our MVP the last two years. ...She has a lot of talent and is very determined and dedicated,” Fish said. “The skill and technique that she has is fantastic. I’m going to miss her. She’s been a leader on the team.”
“I’m very proud,” added her mom, Lynda. “She lettered in two sports all four years and had three letters in winter track. Her freshman soccer season was long and she decided to take a break and not run winter track, otherwise, she would have lettered all four years in three sports. She’s a great student and a great kid. We’re extremely proud.”
As for Bisgaard, NJCU provided her not only the opportunity to continue bowling, which she got started due to her brother, Andrew, who previously bowled for SPHS, and the rest of the her family, but the school had the major of choosing, political science.
“They scouted me and I went to the school to check it out and I really liked their political science program and I was also interested in bowling and it was a match,” Bisgaard said.
Bisgaard checked out a couple of institutions, but opted for NJCU.
“Not really, actually. I really thought I was going to go to Middlesex County College and do their paralegal program, but then I got the opportunity with NJCU,” she said. “I looked at Kean a little bit, but I was set on Jersey City.”
Bisgaard’s average game according to her high school coach Brian Panek, is about 150. Her high game of her senior season came on Dec. 4, 2018 against Mother Seton when she rolled a 220 on her way to a season series best of 534 as well. While the team as a whole finished 0-13-3, Bisgaard performed well, finishing first on the team on number of pins knocked down in each game and for the entire season.
“I’m excited for her and happy for her,” Panek said. “I wish her the best of luck. We’ll miss her. She’s been our leader and captain for two years.”
Added her parents, Tracy and Ken: “We’re very proud and excited for the opportunity. She’s thinking political science and maybe law school, too. She’s a very good student. We’re really excited for her. She got her varsity letter all four years.”