As a younger runner, I watched a Flotrack video of a John Simons tempo run on river road. This 6-mile progressive tempo told me everything I needed to know about the program. I was from the state across the Mississippi yet, I saw myself in these athletes and knew I wanted to be a part of the team.

“Snotty Nose Tough” is Roy Griak for run like hell… to the point where snot involuntarily pours out of your nose… and then keep running. It was cold and raining on the day of the tempo run, but everybody seemed to embrace it – multiple literal snot rockets come from the men in the video as they trudged through the cold rain.

“Malo Po Malo” is another Griakism that means little by little. A tempo is a workout that is the model of consistency. It isn’t as flashy a speed workout a couple weeks out from a peak race; It is a staple that you build on week after week that pays dividends in strength at the end of a season. In the video, these gopher men put their heads down and got the job done. They knew what to do. They had done it many times before.

Togetherness. Though John Simons was above the rest of the athletes at the time in terms of ability, they warmed up together, ran the first five miles together, and everybody reconvened at the end and cooled down together. I experience this comradery daily in this program.

After the news about cutting track and field, I was approached on my run by a biker. The news disappointed him. He told me, “My boy is a runner. He wanted to come to the U for college.” I saw myself in this boy. I imagined him watching the same Flotrack video as me -- Picturing himself running a 4:50 last mile down river road. I am heartbroken for this boy who may never have the opportunity to represent his home state in the sport he loves. He may never be able to walk in the footsteps of gopher legends that came before him. He may never get the opportunity to learn the true meaning of “snotty nose tough,” “malo po malo,” or togetherness.

For these reasons, I and many others will fight to save this program… to the point where snot is involuntarily pouring out of our noses... and then keep fighting. Our historic program is worth it. The current Gopher student-athletes are worth it. The boy who wants to be the next gopher great is worth it.