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November 02, 1996

Marisol Barajas, competing for Mission College, is favored to win the women's cross-country race today at the Johnie O Invitational at Fairview Park in Costa Mesa beginning at 10 a.m.

If name sounds vaguely familiar, it should.

Barajas won the City Section 3,200-meter title in 1995 as a Van Nuys High junior. She was not allowed to compete in high school last year because she turned 19 before Sept. 1 of her senior year.

She kept training and improved considerably, running 17 minutes 15.97 seconds in the 5,000 meters after clocking 11:41.38 in the 3,200 for Van Nuys.

Barajas is undefeated against junior college competition and is expected to keep that streak alive today in what is generally considered the Southern California JC championships.

"She only started running during her junior year at Van Nuys," Mission Coach Gretchen Lohr said. "But she has worked really hard to get where she's at."

Barajas is only part of a City Section pipeline to Mission. The Free Spirit's Nos. 2, 3 and 5 runners all ran for City schools.

Patricia Loera went to Bell, Wendy Vallejo is from Marshall and Yadira Estrada ran for Van Nuys.

"There are a lot of potentially good runners in the City," Lohr said. "But a lot of [coaches] only want people who are good in high school. If [the coaches] would look more at what they could do than at what they've done, they'd see some talent in the City."

Other college events in the region today include:

Men's soccer: At 1 p.m., BYU-Hawaii at The Master's, Redlands at Cal Lutheran.

Women's soccer: At 11 a.m., Occidental at Cal Lutheran.

Women's volleyball: At 2 p.m., Portland State at Cal State Northridge.

Water polo: At 11 a.m., Western State Conference tournament at Ventura College.

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