The term is "granola" and it's a half-heartedly derogatory term for Northwesterners. You know, the hike-loving, coffee-slurping, often-rained-upon residents of the upper left corner of the U.S. map.
At first, Alli Cutting thought the comment odd.
Now, she's learned to embrace the "granola."
The former Washington state cross country champ and one of the most decorated runners in Sequim High's annals is staying put in the great, wet Northwest, having accepted an athletic scholarship to run and study at Seattle Pacific University.
"I like the people, the feel of the campus, the small class sizes," she says. "It's very granola. It fits me (and) my personality."
The exploits of the 17-year-old caught the attention of schools far and wide after a cross country state 2A championship in the fall of 2008 and four track & field medals in the springs of 2007 and 2008.
But it was actually her high school freshman year when she met Seattle Pacific coach Erika Daligcon at a cross country invitational. After receiving the bulk of her college scholarship offers in her junior season, Cutting had narrowed her choices to just a few, including Division I Boston College.
B.C. looked like it might fit Cutting fine. On a recruiting trip she roomed with Sarah Lord, the ultra talented runner from Redmond who four times finished in the top 10 at Washington state 4A cross country meets.
But a funny thing happened on the way to signing with the Eagles. Her recruiters took Cutting to a soccer game and a party. At Seattle Pacific, her recruiters took her to PCC, a grocery store boasting a wide selection of organic foods - including granola.
"(The decision) was a lot of research, daily discussions, pro and con lists," Cutting says.
With her choice made, Cutting now can focus on her 2009 track & field season. After an up-and-down past 12 months - missing all of the 2009 track season with an injury that's now healed and getting an illness that nearly took her out of the 2009 cross county postseason entirely - Cutting says she's ready to go for this spring's season.
Following that, Cutting has plenty of running and studying in front of her. The Sequim High senior is getting much of her college expenses paid for by Seattle Pacific through academic scholarships and the rest paid for through her athletic scholarship -- for all four years.
Cutting says she hopes to get into SPU's pre-med program for a possible career as a pediatrician.
Until then, she's got plenty of miles to go. SPU's runners run all year with a fall cross country program, indoor track & field in the winter and an outdoor track season in the spring.
Cutting says she's not sure what to expect from the competition at Seattle Pacific's NCAA Division II level but that she's conferred with Sequim grad Stephanie Marcy, a former state cross country champ who runs for the Division I Stanford Cardinal cross country squad.
"It's definitely a humbling experience," Cutting says of taking that next step. "I'm not really expecting too much my first year. I'm looking forward to having a team all year long."
Good thing the young running star enjoys what she does.
"I do love running," Cutting says. "I'll always love running."
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.