NEW YORK - The Columbia heavyweight men's rowing team is excited to welcome nine new Lions to the incoming class of 2016 for the 2012-13 season.

Christian Aral, Alex Barkume, Josh Fram, Emmett Gross, Max Lawton, Bret McCarty, Jack Michaud, Jake Petterson and Nicolaas Woudenberg will join the Lions this fall.

"We look forward to this group joining the Columbia heavyweight team in the fall," head heavyweight coach and director of rowing Mike Zimmer said. "We expect this class to row and race very hard and to be great teammates."

Zimmer and assistant coach Jon Douglas noted that the class of 2016 is entering Columbia at an important time for the heavyweight rowing team.

"Having graduated only two seniors from the team, we know the incoming class will immediately add depth and competition to the squad," Douglas remarked. "They are the physically strongest class that l have been involved in recruiting and they have shown real racing ability. Most importantly, they have had a very positive impact on their respective teams and are very hard workers. I'm excited to see them develop as a group here at Columbia."

"We recruit student-athletes who are serious about their academics, serious about racing and are excited to undertake both endeavors at the highest level," Zimmer explained. "We look forward to working with these nine young men as they grow as individuals, win races and make Columbia proud."

Christian Aral, 6-5,  Glen Cove, N.Y. (Chaminade)
Competed in the top U.S. Development 8+ in 2011 ... fourth place 8+ at 2010 Head of the Charles ... four-year National Honor Society member.

Alex Barkume, 6-5, Manorville, N.Y. (Choate Rosemary Hall)
Won the Varsity 4+ event at the 2011 NEIRA with current Columbia sophomore Buck Goggin ... holds the 2k erg record at Choate ... awarded the 2012 Austin Meeks Trophy for greatest contribution in rowing at Choate.

Josh Fram, 6-5, Lawrenceville, N.J. (Lawrenceville)
Lawrenceville varsity team captain ... attended the 2011 US Junior National Team selection camp ... three-time Mid-Atlantic Prep League 4+ champion ... won the 2011 Head of the Schuylkill 4+ event.

Emmett Gross, 6-3, Wynnewood, Pa. (LaSalle)
LaSalle varsity team captain ... attended 2012 US Junior National Team selection camp ... eighth place 8+ at the 2012 Youth National Championship...Good Citizen Award recipient.

Max Lawton, 6-5, Bayside, Wisc. (Nicolet)
Milwaukee River Rowing Club team captain … two-time Milwaukee River Challenge winner in the 8+ … holds the 2k erg record at MRRC … National Merit Scholar … Columbia John Jay scholar.

Bret McCarty, 6-3, Lakewood, Ohio (St. Ignatius)
St. Ignatius varsity team captain ... sixth place 8+ at the 2011 Head of the Charles ... gold medal recipient in the JV 8+ at the 2011 Midwest Championships and silver medalist at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America Championships.

Jack Michaud, 6-3, Concord, Mass. (Concord-Carlisle)
Qualified for 2012 Youth Nationals in the Community Rowing varsity eight ... fourth at 2011 Canadian Henley in the U19 Men's 8+ ... played varsity ice hockey for three years ... hockey captain in his senior year … President’s Award for academic excellence.

Jake Petterson, 6-4, Westport, Conn. (Staples)
Saugatuck Boat Club varsity team captain ... competed at Youth Nationals in the 4x and 8+ ... won the 2012 Mercer Lake Sprints and Northeast Championships in the varsity 8+ ... 2011-12 USRowing Scholastic honor roll.

Nicolaas Woudenberg, 6-3, Amsterdam, Netherlands (Barlaeus Gymnasium)
Competed with the Dutch National Team in the 2011 Coupe de la Jeunesse ... Dutch U-17 and U-19 4x national champion ... set the course record at the Head of the River Amstel in 2011.