Gilligan and Gilligan. No, it’s not the hottest comedy act in the nation or the newest law firm in Ocean County.
But they are — that is, Gilligan Greenlow and Dan Gilligan — one of the more effective shot putting tandems in the Shore Conference, and they’re hoping to take the state by storm when they compete in the NJSIAA Group IV Relay Championships on Thursday.
“We’ve been working out together for years,” said Greenlow, a senior at Toms River East and Gilligan’s cousin. “We grew up together, and we’ve been practicing together since Dan was in seventh grade. We’re more like brothers, and it’s really cool throwing alongside him now.”
Greenlow is the nephew of James Gilligan Jr., a 1984 High School East graduate and the school’s record holder in both the shot put and discus. According to Greenlow, his mother used the name of her father, James Gilligan Sr., and flipped it around to form Greenlow’s first and middle names.
James Gilligan Sr. also was a thrower for the track and field team at Coughlin High School in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. And all along, as Greenlow grew, he settled on being a thrower like his grandfather and uncle.
“It’s in the blood, it seems,” Greenlow said. “I saw a picture of my grandfather in his yearbook and kind of knew I wanted to get into throwing. I started when I was in sixth grade and I fell in love with it. But it’s more than just a sport. It’s a big part of life for me.”
A sophomore, Dan Gilligan began throwing competitively with his cousin several weeks ago and already the pair have become a solid duo for the Raiders, placing second during the Ocean County Relays 10 days ago, finishing three-quarters of an inch behind Central’s Jesse Brown and John Febus.
“I’ve learned a lot from Gill, about aggressiveness and speed through the circle, and explosiveness,” he said. “We push each other, and we’re really excited to see what we can do the rest of this season and into the spring.”
East throws coach Greg Roth said watching the two together is like watching a fun, sibling rivalry. The two compete against one another and tease each other about who’s better, but they each have the other’s back for support.
“I used to work for Dan’s dad, Jim, when I was a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym, so I know the whole family,” Roth said. “These two work great together, and they get a lot of support from their parents. The best part with Gill and Dan is that they just want the other to succeed.”
And while success for Greenlow, who hopes to attend Lehigh University and compete in track and field, and Dan Gilligan mean different things, both have fixed their eyes on Jim Gilligan’s records.
Greenlow is aiming for the discus record of 178 feet, 10 inches in the spring, while Dan Gilligan first wants to break his father’s sophomore record of 51 feet, 4 ¾ inches in the shot put and later go after the junior record of 59 feet, 3 inches as well as the big one — 67 feet, 1 ¾ inches, the school’s overall shot put record set by his dad in the spring of 1984.
“What I love about throwing is that you set personal goals and you work your butt off trying to reach them,” said Greenlow, whose best throw in the discus is 169 feet, 11 inches. “It’s very satisfying to see your hard work pay off. And in our family, my uncle wants us to do well and break his records.”
Not surprisingly, Dan Gilligan said he believes he someday can pose a threat to his dad’s shot put mark.
“I’m definitely going after it,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll get 68 feet, but all I have to do is beat my dad’s record by a quarter-inch and that would be fine by me.”
Raiders coach Doug Trumble wouldn’t be surprised if either athlete breaks the marks they’ve set for themselves.
“They’re both great kids, and they’re both dedicated and want to succeed,” he said. “My understanding is they go out to a park with Dan’s father to throw the shot and discus like some fathers go out to play catch with their kids. They do this stuff for fun, so it’s no wonder they’ve been successful so far and should continue to be successful.”