Growing up in Chester, with a dad (Jonathan Alizio) who ran on Pinkerton’s Class L championship 1994 squad that included All-American Matt Downin, rising Astros sophomore Jack Alizio knows all about the tradition of the Long Red Line.
“I’ve heard a lot of stories from my dad,” said Alizio. “Most of his memorable experiences were with Matt.”
What Alizio did not hear from his father was insistence that he become a runner. That is somewhat surprising in light of his involvement in running, which is something clearly dear to his heart.
In addition to his own running, the older Alizio has spent much of his life coaching. He spent nine years as an assistant for his former coach, Pinkerton boys coach Mike Clark, and then he was as assistant for the girls cross country program for several years before becoming head girls coach last year.
In addition, he took over as head girls track coach this year. What he did not do is pressure his son to follow in his footsteps.
“I get that question asked me a lot, but dad always said he didn’t expect me to run cross country at all,” said Jack. “I just picked it up in middle school. I tried it and I immediately liked it a lot.”
Explaining his laid back approach to his son, Jon said: “I always dreamed that my sons would become runners and one day run for coach Clark and the Long Red Line. Running for Mike Clark had a profound and lasting impact on my life. I trace the root of both my teaching and coaching careers back to him.
“But I’ve known many runners over the years that were forced into it by their parents and they ultimately hated running because it was an obligation. I knew, from this experience, that my wife and I would let them choose their own path.”
Jack was far from a star distance runner when he started in the fifth grade, but he’s made steady progress. He was the top runner on the Chester Academy team as a seventh grader and second on his middle school team as an eighth grader.
Last year, as a freshman for Pinkerton, it was a learning year primarily with the JV, but Alizio was happy with his progress.
“I thought it was a good year,” he said. “I went from a (5K) PR of 21:30 to under 20 minutes. I thought I was improving a lot.”
Unfortunately, that progress was derailed this winter when knee issues kept him out of indoor track and forced him to do physical therapy and rest. But he’s feeling better now and hopeful that he’ll make the varsity rotation as a sophomore and be a serious scorer as a junior.
Clark wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen.
“I think he’s shown strong potential, and how cool is it to coach the son of one of my former runners?” said Clark, who has been the Astros’ head man for 38 years.
Actually, Clark will get the opportunity to coach two Alizio offsprings in 2021 because Jack’s younger brother, Nick, will be a freshman then and is planning to join the program.
“He (Nick) likes soccer but we ran together in middle school and we’re planning on running together at Pinkerton my junior year,” said Jack. “We always wanted to run together and I think he has good potential.”
When that happens, don’t expect good old dad to change his “let them be” approach to his running offspring.
“He often advises me on stretching, warming up and things like that, but most of the things I’ve learned about running are from my middle school coaches and coach Clark,” said Jack.
It’s a laid back approach that, for this family at least, seems to have enhanced an enjoyment of running.
Long Red Line link
1994 — Jon Alizio competes on Pinkerton’s Class L-championship team
2019 — Son Jack Alizio joins Pinkerton squad as freshman
2021 — Youngest son Nick expected to join team as freshman