Getting their hall passes

Maryann Boosalis took a trip down memory lane on her way to La Cañada High School's Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday.

Boosalis walked by the school's pool and recalled the four years she spent swimming for the Spartans. She remembered all the pep rallies she attended as she walked in La Cañada's north gym, the venue for the school's 2011 Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Boosalis and Carlene Pengra Yao Friday night.

Boosalis and Yao were both added to the list of more than 80 former La Cañada High athletes. Students from 1965 all the way to 2005 — Boosalis' year of graduation — fill out the list.

"It's humbling and an honor to be among such a noble group of athletes," said Yao, calling the induction her highest athletic achievement.

Both athletes had to earn the right to be called one of La Cañada High School's greatest competitors of all time. Each year, deserving former La Cañada athletes are inducted based on outstanding accomplishments and contributions to La Cañada High's athletic program.

Boosalis carved out her niche in the pool and was inducted on her first year of eligibility. The reason was simple. James Harvey, the founder of La Cañada's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989, described her as one of the top two swimmers in school history during the ceremony.

"I don't look at myself that way," Boosalis said. "I just look at myself as a hard worker — I guess it paid off."

An All-American all four years of high school, Boosalis was named the All-Area Athlete of the Year in 2003. She won the CIF Championship in the 100-yard breaststroke in both 2002 and 2003 and holds the La Cañada and CIF records in the event with a time of 1 minute, 4.00 seconds. She also holds the school's records in the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly.

After high school, Boosalis swam for the University of Washington and competed in the Olympic Trials in 2004. Being inducted into her high school's hall of fame is just "icing on the cake," she said.

Yao, a 1994 graduate, was a triple-threat in soccer, track and field and cross-country. She was an All-Rio Hondo League soccer player all four years and made the All-CIF team in 1992 after scoring 21 goals and notching 20 assists. She also won the track and field two-mile league championship and placed second in the CIF two-mile finals in 1992.

Cross-country is where Yao made her mark though. She placed among the top three in the Rio Hondo League Championships all four years and won the CIF Southern Section Individual Championship in 1991.

"I certainly didn't get [to the hall of fame] by myself," Yao said. "I think tonight was an opportunity to give a sincere thank you to those who made a great impact on my athletic career, as well as my life."

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