Lightweights Introduce 12 in Class of 2019

Follow @pennlwt

PHILADELPHIA - As the University of Pennsylvania lightweights prepare for EARC Sprints this weekend, first-year head coach Colin Farrell announced his first official recruiting class on Wednesday. The Quakers will welcome 12 new members of the Red and Blue in the Class of 2019.

“The coaches couldn’t be more excited about this group," Farrell said. "We think they posses a real passion for rowing as well as the grit needed to make the jump to the collegiate level. There’s also a special pride in the first class that you recruit as a head coach. We can't wait to get them on campus in the fall and get to work."

The newest group of Quakers hail from six different states and as well as another from Washington, D.C. (John Cruser). Four will travel to the City of Brotherly Love from Florida, including twins Alexander and Nicholas Keenan, and Kane Akar and Santiago Peralta-Ramos. Two others will come to Boathouse Row from California (Ryan Clyde and Conor Reilly), while Benjamin Weaver and Alex Halas are local products. New Hampshire (Maxwell Abram), Texas (Braden Fineburg) and New York (Skender Mustafaraj) are also represented.

Below is an in-depth look at each of the 12 soon-to-be Quakers.


Name: Maxwell Abram
High School Team: St. Paul’s School (N.H.)

High School Coach: Colin Campbell

Rowing Highlights: Bronze in junior 4x at Club Nationals 2014.

Why I chose Penn: The school’s integration into urban Philadelphia and the opportunity to be part of the P150's pursuit of success in the most competitive rowing league in the country.

What I love about rowing: Success in rowing requires great resolve and dedication to achieve a few really awesome pieces. By exercising these mental muscles through the sport I’ve found deep satisfaction in a feeling of true self-determination.

Favorite athlete: Derek Jeter


Name: Kane Akar
High School Team: Miami Rowing Club (Fla.)

High School Coach: Cesar Herrera

Why I chose Penn: Getting recruited to Penn was my best rowing achievement. Choosing Penn became the clear decision after I visited, met the team and saw how great they were. The collective personalities and attitudes of all the guys was phenomenal, and campus life seemed to be very social and fun!

What I love about rowing: I love the comradery that comes with being in the boat. The bonds grown between friends in rowing are stronger than any other.

Favorite athlete: Hulk Hogan


Name: Ryan Clyde
High School Team: Marin Rowing Association (Calif.)

High School Coach: Dustin Kraus

Rowing Highlights:2014 LWT 8 Youth National Champions with wins also at the San Diego Crew Classic and Southwest Regional Championships ... Second place in varsity eight at the 50th Head of the Charles ... Fourth place at Youth Nationals 2013 in lightweight 4.

Why I chose Penn: For the opportunity to be part of a team that is getting faster every year, and for the best possible education, all in beautiful Philly.

What I love about rowing: I enjoy the hard work, being on a fun team, and above all, great rowing.

Favorite Athlete: Harrison Barnes


Name: John Cruser
High School Team: Gonzaga College High School (D.C)

High School Coach:Marc Mandel

Rowing Highlights: Won three bronze medals at Stotesbury while at Gonzaga in the Freshman 8, JV 8 and Lightweight 8 ... Also won gold in the Lightweight 4 at the inaugural National Scholastic Rowing Association Regatta.

Why I chose Penn: I chose Penn because it is in the city just like my high school, but also has a nice campus with tremendous academics and athletics.

What I love about rowing: I love the team aspect of rowing. More than any other sport you must work together and row hard with whatever guys you are in a boat with. At the end of the day you must rely on everyone and this builds an unbreakable bond within the team.

Favorite Athlete: Cole Hamels


Name: Braden Fineberg
High School Team: Dallas Rowing Club (Texas)

High School Coaches: Jules Slim and Bryan Roberts

Rowing Highlights: Ranked No. 9 in the nation at US Rowing Youth Nationals 2014, ranked third in Central Region (2014) and second in Texas (2014) in the Men’s Lightweight 2x.

Why I chose Penn: I chose Penn for the atmosphere; it brings together a unique group of driven, highly intelligent people. It has the perfect mix of work and fun in a great city.

What I love about rowing: I love the team atmosphere it fosters. Win or lose, we do it in the same boat.

Favorite Athlete: Tom Brady.


Name: Alex Halas
High School Team: St. Joseph’s Preparatory School (Pa.)

High School Coach: Jim Glavin

Rowing Highlights: 2014 Catholic League Champions lightweight8 ... 2014 Philadelphia City Champions lightweight 8 ... Won gold at 2014 Stotesbury Cup Regatta in lightweight 8 ... 2014 SRAA NationalChampions in lightweight8 ... Fourth in the Grand Final at 2014 US Rowing Youth Nationals in lightweight 8 ... 2015 Catholic League Champions in heavyweight 8.

Why I chose Penn: I chose Penn because of the opportunities it will provide inacademics,athletics andlife after college, andI'm excited to be a part of the formation of a team.The campus is great and always lively and the people are friendly.

What I love about rowing: I love the feeling of accomplishment you get when you win a big race, makingall the hard training and hours of water time worth it. Also, the bond you make with the other rowers is unparalleled in any other sport.

Favorite Athlete: Alex Honnold


Name: Alexander Keenan
High School Team: Belen Jesuit Prep Crew (Fla.)

High School Coach:Yunian Cabrera

Rowing Highlights: Second in Lightweight 8 at SRAA Nationals (2013 and 2014) ... First at 2013 Royal Canadian Henley U17 8+... First in lightweight 8+ dash at Canadian Henley (2014) ... Sixth at 2014 Head of the Charles in Youth 8+ ...Sixth in lightweight 8+ at Youth Nationals (2014).

Why I chose Penn: Penn offers an awesome education and a really unique experience. After visiting the school and spending time with the team I knew I needed to come here.

What I love about rowing: I love the satisfaction and sense of achievement when the boat crosses the finish line and we see all the work that was put in. Moments like that create a bond in rowing that's unmatched by any other sport.

Favorite athlete: Hamish Bond


Name: Nicholas Keenan
High School Team: Belen Jesuit Prep Crew (Fla.)

High School Coach: Yunian Cabrera

Rowing Highlights:First at 2013 Royal Canadian Henley U17 8+ ... Second at 2013 and 2014 SRAA Nationals in lightweight 8 ... Sixth at 2014 Youth Nationals in lightweight 8 ... Sixth at 2014 Head of the Charles in Youth 8+ ...First at 2014 Royal Canadian Henley in lightweight 8+ dash.

Why I chose Penn: The incredible educational opportunities of Penn engineering and the big city culture of Philadelphia.

What I love about rowing: The brotherhood established through the time commitments and sacrifices each day is like no other. Success in rowing requires absolute trust and unwavering commitment to each other, both on and off the water.

Favorite athlete: Eric Murray


Name: Skender Mustafaraj
High School Team: Fordham Prep (N.Y.)

High School Coach:Larry Muri

Rowing Highlights:Second at the Head of the Potomac ... Fourth at the Textile River Regatta ... Fifth at the Head of the Schuylkill.

Why I chose Penn: Penn has been a lifelong dream of mine, from the atmosphere of the city of Philadelphia, to the expanse of opportunities available to me, I know I chose the right place and can not wait to experience it over the next few years.

What I love about rowing: I love the competition involved. You are joining forces with eight other guys, all striving for the same goal, and pushing yourselves to tremendous heights trying to beat out other boats with similar goals. You are also competing with yourself, training day-in and day-out to try and lower that number on the erg machine, the ultimate test of will and hard work.

Favorite Athlete: Lionel Messi


Name: Santiago Peralta-Ramos
High School Team: Melbourne High School (Fla.)

High School Coach: Jon Lothian

Rowing Highlights: Third place in the lightweight 4+ at 2014 FSRA Sweep State Championship ... Seventh place in the lightweight 4+ at 2014 SRAA National Championship ... Third place in the pair at 2015 FSRA Sweep State Championship.

Why I chose Penn: Penn provides one of the best educations in the country, without the pretentiousness one might think it carries. I have never met more brilliant, curious, and down to earth individuals than on Penn’s campus. The city of Philadelphia also has many interesting historical and cultural offerings.

What I love about rowing: It is an endless pursuit of unattainable perfection; even when you think you took an impeccable stroke, you probably missed water at the catch.

Favorite Athlete: Eric Murray


Name: Conor Reilly
High School Team: Marin Rowing (Calif.)

High School Coach: Dustin Kraus

Rowing Highlights:First at San Diego Crew Classic in the varsity eight (2014 & 2015) ... Second at 2013 Youth Nationals in lightweight 8 ... Second at Southwestern Championships in the varsity 8 (2014 & 2015) ... First at Southwestern Championships in the 2- in 2015.

Why I chose Penn:I chose Penn because of its exceptional academics and its tradition of excellence in rowing.

What I love about rowing:I love rowing because of the friends I have made and the feeling of winning a race knowing that all your hard work has paid off.

Favorite Athlete: Shane McConkey


Name: Benjamin Weaver
High School Team: Roman Catholic High School (Pa.)

High School Coach:Zackary Coons

Rowing Highlights: Two-time team captain ... First at 2014 SRAA Nationals in ightweight 4x ... First at 2014 Philadelphia City Championships in lightweight 4x ... First at 2013 US Rowing Club Nationals in Junior B 2x and 4x ... Third at 2013Canadian Henley inU17 4x and fifth in U17 2x... Won gold at 2012 Stotesbury Cup Regatta in freshman 4x.

Why I chose Penn: I chose Penn because I believe it is the best University in America located in the best city in America.

What I love about rowing: I love the competitive nature rowing provides both within the team and through out the league. There is no better feeling than winning a race after the immense amount of work put in bothindividually and as a team.

Favorite Athlete: Connor Barwin