In Division I cross country and track and field, we are constantly, literally chasing down our dreams – to run faster, to jump higher, to throw farther. Yet, at the end of the day, we all know it isn’t about those outcome numbers. It’s about finding something meaningful to chip away at every single day, by continuing to show up to practice and be humbled, despite injury, stress, and failure. Amateur athletic competition draws out the best in all of us that are fortunate enough to have this opportunity, because it challenges us rise to the expectation of our best effort. Running track is particularly special, because it allows for an even match between anybody that can lace up a pair of shoes. It has never been more clear to me that our society is in desperate need of these even matches, these rare lineups where anyone – of any background, color, or religion – can excel. And win.

Four years ago, I chose to attend the University of Minnesota for several reasons, one of which was its excellent reputation in Division I cross country and track and field. Further, “the U” is known for its open expression of inclusivity, and I was fortunate to be able to choose a college that would connect me with people different from me after living in a small town in Iowa throughout my childhood. I fully believed in that commitment to diversity, and I was proud to be a Gopher because of it – until the decision was announced to cut the men’s program. This does not reflect our collective commitment to inclusion. It does not respect the need for spaces that athletes of all backgrounds can succeed. It does not respond to the people in our surrounding communities who are in need of access to higher education. At a time when the injustices endured by young, Black men in America are finally being discussed, this decision to cut men's track and field is so unfortunately, ironically ignorant of our supposed commitment to progress. As athletes, we have been training our entire lives to rise up to expectations, and it is time for the University to rise up as well and find a way to move forward that does not compromise its integrity.