The Santa Monica High School Vikings wrestling team had three individual place finishers at the Tournament of Champions earlier this month at Cerritos College.

Team members Sami Syed, Derek Shapiro and Tim Warren — all senior wrestlers — placed third, seventh, and eighth respectively.

As a team, the Santa Monica Vikings scored 98 points and placed 13th among the 63 teams competing in the tournament. Santa Monica High placed in all three of the tournaments it competed in earlier in the season.

“This is one of the toughest tournaments in the state and to be in the top 20 percent is a great accomplishment for these kids,” said Vikings head coach Mark Black.

The team then placed third at the Nogales Super Champs Tournament Saturday and Sunday, January 10th and 11th, with two individual champions and four wrestlers in the top ten of their respective weight classes. The Vikings scored 140 points as a team, nearly 50 percent more points than they earned in the Tournament of Champions.

Syed and Ben Yura both won individual championships, defeating wrestlers who were ranked in the top five in the state going into the tournament. Syed, a senior, has only one loss this season, while Yura, a junior, had ten unanswered take-downs in the final to win the match 21-9. Other senior Viking wrestlers, Shapiro and Ryan Poindexter, placed third and eighth respectively.

“Nearly everyone on the team contributed to this very significant finish in one of the toughest fields around,” assistant coach Brent Wright said.

League competition is scheduled to begin Thursday, January 22nd, when Santa Monica hosts defending league champion North Torrance High.

“This will be our biggest test of the dual meet schedule,” says Black. “We will continue to work with Bob Forster, a local physical therapist who volunteers as the strength and conditioning coach for the team, to peak our fitness for the North Torrance match and the state qualifying tournaments later in the season.”

Wright expressed confidence as the team heads for league competition, saying, “We have a real shot at winning our league championship with this team.”