September will be a busy month for Santa Monica High School sports teams. The fall sports season has already begun, and the Vikings look to be highly competitive in several sports this autumn.
Unfortunately for the football team, the Vikings did not get off to a good start and lost 39-0 to Segerstrom of Santa Ana in the opening game of the season on August 25. The tone of the game was set early as sophomore running back Kayden Thomas broke his leg and is expected to be out for the season. Luckily the Vikings still have another talented runner in senior Tony Dancy. But overall Samohi lost many players from last year’s team that improved to four wins after going winless in 2015.
“We’re very young and we are only starting four seniors on both sides of the ball,” said head coach Ramsey Lambert, in his third year guiding the Vikings. “We have to play a lot of sophomores and juniors. It was the first time for a lot of guys playing under the lights (in the season opener).”
One player with experience at many positions is versatile senior Leo Reynoso, who will be the starting signal-caller this season.
“We needed a quarterback and he took the role,” Lambert said. “He’s a great leader on the field and he’s got a cannon for an arm.”
The slogan for the 2017 Vikings is “all we got, all the time.” According to Lambert: “We come up with a slogan each year. We’re not deep so everyone has to give 100 percent all the time.”
In other local sports, the Samohi cross country teams have certainly gained in popularity with a large number of runners making up the boys and girls squads. A total of 115 runners comprise both teams this autumn.
“That’s exciting,” head coach Tania Fischer proclaimed. “We have a big group of young runners which is great to see.”
The Vikings have been running strong since Fischer took over the program four years ago. The boys and girls varsity squads both finished runners-up in the Ocean League last year, and this season Fischer hopes they can take that extra step forward.
The girls will be led by senior captain Anya Sturm and sophomore Tupelo Sullivan. Anchoring the boys squad are senior captains Daniel Cohen and Tony Morris.
The teams started practice in mid-July and have been training hard in preparation for the fall season. On September 8, the Vikings will travel to Pasadena for the Cool Breeze Invitational.
Meanwhile, the girls tennis team also has high expectations. With the return of singles champion Vivian Cheng and several talented newcomers, the team looks to be strong once again.
“I am very optimistic in doing well within our league and in the team tournaments,” coach Wilston Poon said. “We won the league last year and we were fortunate to add on new players who can help us this coming season. The addition of new players combined with great returning players should make us a formidable team.”
Another Samohi squad with high hopes is girls volleyball.
“We have a really deep squad this season,” coach Liane Sato stated. “We expect all our players to be major contributors.”
Team leaders will be Charlotte Bieber, Jackie Zakhanin, Veronica Johnson, Hannah Sabbe, Abbie Shock, Alie Ball and Sophie Major.
The Vikings volleyball teams have generally finished in the top three and the goal is be competitive again in the Ocean League.
The boys water polo squad has dominated league play by winning several conference titles over the years. It’s a very competitive program according to coach Matt Flanders, who has done a great job keeping the Vikings at the top for two decades and counting.
A much newer program, but one that is looking to grow, is girls golf.
“It’s a very young program,” fourth-year head coach Kevin McKeown pointed out. “We’re mostly looking for the golfers to just show improvement.”
Top golfers include senior captain Emily Goldman, junior Molly Sadler and sophomore Sarah Ogata.