SENIOR WEEKS: West Chester East’s Lemmon-Kishi a rarity in age of specialized athletes

In these days of high school sports specialization, it’s hard to find a solid three-sport athlete, but Ches-Mont League shot put champion Hugh Lemmon-Kishi fits the bill nicely.

The West Chester East senior has been an All-Ches-Mont and Daily Local News All-Area offensive lineman for the Vikings’ football squad; he finished second at the District 1 Class 3A Section West wrestling tournament at 285 pounds last winter; and in track, he is a standout thrower of both shot put and discus.

“I would say the biggest benefit to being a three-sport athlete is getting the full range of athleticism,” said Lemmon-Kishi. “Football was my main sport and I kind of put it all together, but wrestling gave me much better conditioning and athleticism, while throwing allowed me to focus on the mobility, footwork, and explosiveness needed for football.”

Hugh Lemmon-Kishi celebrates after defeating Church Farm’s Emmanuel Lawal, 4-3, in the 285-pound finals. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

“You do not see many three-sport student athletes like Hugh at the high school level anymore, and he not only competed in all three, but excelled,” said West Chester East football head coach Scott Stephen. “In Hugh’s case, all three of them complemented one another. Hugh was able to take the skills and techniques from each of the sports and apply them to the field, mat or circle.”

Next fall, Lemmon-Kishi will play football for Amherst College, and will possibly compete in throwing too. During his time on the West Chester East athletic fields, the two-year captain has displayed both versatility and leadership.

“Hugh is a positive influence to friends, classmates, teammates and opponents through his everyday work ethic, character and actions,” said Stephen. “Other’s successes were and are as important [to him] as his own. He was a tremendous leader that impacted a number of students and athletes at East by his willingness to consistently encourage and support others.”

Lemmon-Kishi was looking forward to defending his Ches-Mont shot put title this spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of the 2020 spring season.

“I was definitely looking forward to possibly repeating as a Ches-Mont champion in shot put and maybe even grab the discus title too,” said Lemmon-Kishi, who finished ninth in discus at the District 1 track & field championships as a junior.

“On top of that, I was hoping to qualify for States and take a shot at the school record in discus. Coach [Scott] Stephen and coach Costin and I had talked a lot about me having a chance to get my name on the record board this season. In theoff-season I focused the most on increasing my power/explosiveness, and block arm on my release.”

Unsurprisingly, given his academic profile and future at a top-notch school like Amherst, Lemmon-Kishi is philosophical about the cancellation of the PIAA spring track & field season.

“I think that it is a shame that all spring seasons have been cancelled and I know that a lot of student-athletes are hurting right now, wishing they could be competing,” said Lemmon-Kishi. “But I also know that everyone in the country is doing their part and we all have to make sacrifices if we want to return to normal.”

Fortunately, Lemmon-Kishi was able to complete his wrestling career at West Chester East last winter, finishing second at District 1 Class 3A Section West tournament. He posted a won-loss record of 66-35 during his time on the Vikings mats, and his most memorable win was a 4-3 victory in mid-January against Church Farm senior Emmanuel Lawal, who went on to finish second in the PIAA Class AA state tournament.

“Eman and I had practiced together a few times a year before so we were close friends, but he had also beaten me in our previous match and I wanted to prove I had gotten better,” said Lemmon-Kishi.

On the football field, Lemmon-Kishi battled back from an injured knee that cut short his sophomore season, earning second team All-Ches-Mont League recognition as a junior offensive lineman, as well as Daily Local News’ All-Area honors. That year, West Chester East defeated both WC Rustin and WC Henderson to win the mythical West Chester championship.

“Rustin has a great football program, and beating them as a junior is my favorite football memory,” said Lemmon-Kishi. “It was something our whole team wanted.”

Last fall, Lemmon-Kishi fractured his hip, which sidelined him for the football season and the early part of the wrestling season. But the West Chester East senior, a National Honor Society member, still had plenty of options regarding college football.

“After I broke my hip early in the football season, I knew my chance of getting a D1 offer was over, so immediately my top two choices were Johns Hopkins and Amherst, since to me, school comes first,” said Lemmon-Kishi. “In the end I chose Amherst because I felt it was a better fit for me and my mom attended Amherst.”

Currently, Lemmon-Kishi is considering majoring in either economics or pre-med at Amherst.

Stephen said, “Amherst College is getting an incredible student-athlete, but more importantly, an outstanding young man.”

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