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Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Penn women's fencing freshman Lark Izenson's youth career has given her unique experiences competing in events across the globe.

Credit: Tamara Wurman

Lark Izenson might only be a freshman, but she has been fencing for a decade already. 

An Atlanta native, Izenson provides a significant amount of international experience to Penn fencing’s sabre squad. She has been able to translate her years of experience into a very successful start to her college career.

Izenson earned a third-place finish at the Penn State Open in early November, providing the only top-16 finish for the sabre team. She also contributed a noteworthy performance to the squad at the Elite Invitational, providing consistent individual wins against her competitors.

Over her four years on the national circuit, she turned in a number of noteworthy performances in countries including Poland, Bulgaria, Spain, and Costa Rica. Izenson considers her second-place finish at the Austria Junior World Cup the highlight of her international career. 

The national circuit requires that a fencer be in the top 12 of the national rankings to participate internationally, a standard Izenson was first able to meet in eighth grade. After a significant amount of time competing individually at a very high level, she says the transition to competing on a collegiate level has required more of an emphasis on the team mentality.

“Tournaments outside of college are very individual. I still had my club and my coaches, but I could fence someone from within my club. At college tournaments you fence other teams,” Izenson said. “You still fence by yourself, but everyone has to contribute to win a match.”

Izenson comes from the same club as men's fencing sophomore Andy Sun. Located in Atlanta, Nellya Fencers is known as one of the top sabre clubs in the country. Sun and coach Andy Ma’s connections with her home club were large factors in influencing Izenson’s choice to come fence for the Quakers. 

With valuable additions to the squad like Izenson, the team appears likely to be on a trajectory to defend its first-place Ivy League status and continue to make strides at NCAAs. As for her role in the future of the sabre squad, Izenson hopes to play an integral part in ensuring the program’s future success.

“We have a lot of upperclassmen and I know there are two freshmen coming in next year, so I want to continue to focus on building the women’s program.”