Hamzah Alsaudi, 22, was swept out to sea while swimming at a beach in Pacifica, south of San Francisco, on January 19.
According to the Pacifica Police Department, Alsaudi, a senior at San Francisco State University, was swimming with two friends at Esplanade Beach, when he was struck by a “large wave and pulled farther away from the shore.”
Alsaudi was a member of the school’s wrestling team, and his companions, who were teammates, made it back to shore and called 911.
Police, North Country Fire Authority firefighters and the U.S. Coast Guard searched for Alsaudi.
On Friday (January 20), the school issued the following statement: “Our hearts go out to the family, friends, and classmates of beloved student and athlete Hamzah Alsaudi who remains missing following yesterday’s tragic accident. We are grateful to the Coast Guard and the Pacifica Police Department for all they have done.”
Alsaudi was born in Iraq on August 25, 2000. He lived in Baghdad until he was 4, when his family moved to Jordan, where he lived until he was 10.
He next attended Kentwood Elementary when his family moved to Westchester in 2010. He attended Orville Wright for sixth grade, Animo Westside Charter for seventh and Paul Revere for eighth.
In an interview several years later with the CTN editor, Alsaudi said his family of six moved to Santa Monica when he was in eighth grade. Why not a Santa Monica middle school? “My mom thought that Revere was better,” said Alsaudi, who was fluent in Arabic (his first language) and English.
He tried wrestling for the first time as a freshman at Palisades High because “Coach Randy [Aguirre, who died of glioblastoma in 2015] came to our PE classes and told us about wrestling.” Alsaudi said he didn’t have a sport, so he decided to give it a try.
In his first year on the PaliHi team, Alsaudi won only three matches. But as a sophomore, the 195-pounder began winning, and winning big: he won a City title and went to State.
At the 2017 Newbury Park Invitational, featuring 28 teams and 252 wrestlers from California and Nevada, Alsaudi received an MVP award.
In his junior year, he reached the round of 16 at the State championships. And the following year, Alsaudi became the first PaliHi wrestler to place at a State meet, finishing fifth.
He wrestled at Cerritos College for a season before transferring to San Francisco State. He was a senior majoring in political science with a minor in Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Disaporas Studies.
Asaudi is the son of Nadia Shaheen (in Arabic countries, the woman maintains her maiden name) and Raed Al-Saudi. He is also survived by his sisters, Yasra and Zubaidah, and a brother, Mohammad. His siblings also graduated from PaliHi.