The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Athlete Profile: Mark Levental in action

Irina Levental
Levental practices a bout with one of his teammates.

Palo Alto is where Carlmont sophomore Mark Levental ends up three to four nights a week. Rather than being tutored or out with friends, he is fencing, practicing with his teammates at Maximum Fencing Club. 

The practice consists of various cardio and footwork exercises, all focusing on making the athletes quicker on their feet.

“At practices, we first start with a warm-up just as simple as running. After that, we usually do stretching and some more exercises targeting movement and cardio,” Levental said. “After, we do footwork and sometimes target work, practicing our movement in bout and blade accuracy, respectively. Then we suit up in uniform and sometimes we have drills, other times we go straight to bouts under condition or free bouts. Sometimes, we finish our practice off with a workout.” 

With all these exercises, Levental has become very skilled in his eight years of fencing. He started in 2016, choosing it because he thought it was a unique sport, which proves to be the case with only a couple of other students at Carlmont participating in the sport. He has stayed at the same club and worked his way up to the advanced level. Practice is very important to Levental and his teammates, considering that most of their bout practice cannot be done at home.

“There’s not much we can do outside of practice regarding actual fencing because we need a lot of equipment. The only way to improve it is to do physical exercises, stretching, calisthenics, and others to improve our physical strength and balance,” Levental said.

The physical activity is only half the battle, fencers have to deal with the heavy uniforms they are required to wear. There is also a large psychological component: competitors must analyze and anticipate their opponent’s next move.

“It is like an exam. You come in knowing your student’s strengths and weaknesses, and you try to analyze both their and their opponent’s actions in order for the student to win,” said Oleksandr Dymar, Levental’s coach.

Competitive fencing does come with a lot of costs with time management and school work, but it is worth it for me. The community at our club is outstanding. I have tight connections with my friends, teammates, and coaches.

— Mark Levental

Between the hot gym and the physical and mental demands of fighting their opponent, this makes the sport all the more difficult.

According to Levental, they have a very tight-knit circle of teammates at Maximum Fencing Club.

“My friends have influenced me to join fencing. I saw it as a great opportunity to be with friends, and I have really enjoyed my time here so far,” said William Zhaung, Levental’s teammate who began fencing in 2019.

Levental and his teammates compete in a variety of tournaments across the Bay Area. Levental competes at cadet and junior competitions, his last of which was at a tournament in April in San Jose, where he won gold. He continues to work hard and prepare for these, with competitions always on the horizon.

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About the Contributor
Siena Culligan
Siena Culligan, Staff Writer
Siena Culligan (class of 2026) enjoys playing sports, including basketball for Carlmont, going to the most random places with friends, and listening to good music. This is her first year writing for Carlmont.

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