The condition of a Creston/Orient-Macksburg wrestler who collapsed during a match Wednesday has improved, hospital officials said Thursday morning.
Tayler Pettit, who competed in the 170-pound division, collapsed after a semifinal match – causing a commotion in which defibrillators were used to revive him – and rushed to Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines. Gregg Lagan, a spokesman for Mercy, confirmed Pettit’s condition is now considered “serious,” instead of critical.
Members of the Creston/Orient-Macksburg wrestling team were leery about returning to Wells Fargo Arena for their Wednesday evening consolation match.
A few hours earlier, they had watched teammate Pettit lay unresponsive on a mat, as paramedics frantically tried to keep him alive.
So, taking on Mediapolis for third place in the Class 2-A state duals seemed pretty meaningless – until Pettit’s family asked them to finish out the tournament.
“We had a prayer,” Creston coach Darrell Frain said. “We cried a little bit and we did the best we could tonight.”
Frain told The Register on Wednesday that Pettit was breathing on his own.
“They’re taking lots of tests, but they talked about things like a permanent pacemaker… I don’t know any of that for sure, but that’s where we’re at.”
A series of emergency protocols may have prevented a tragedy.
Dr. Dennis Zachary, a family physician who focuses on sports medicine, was working the state meet and rushed to the scene.
“They called me down,” Zachary said. “I took a look at him. I thought he needed to go out in an ambulance.
“About that time is when he seized. And then, right after he seized, the ambulance guys were already there.”
Zachary said that in the past, medical personnel might have waited until Pettit was outside the arena before using defibrillators.
“Fortunately, they had it there,” Zachary said. “That probably saved his life…. We actually shocked him on the mat.
“We shocked him on the mat, twice, before he even left the arena.”
Other forms of CPR were also used. As Pettit was being wheeled away on a stretcher, a paramedic was straddled over him, pumping his chest.
“He’s probably one of the toughest kids in our room,” Creston wrestler Seth Maitlen said. “When I saw that he was still laying down, I knew something was wrong.
“Turned out to be a pretty serious thing.”
Frain said Pettit remained sedated while the coaches were at the hospital. He added that doctors were planning to closely monitor Pettit for at least 36 hours.
“It’s a situation where they think it happened in about the first ten seconds of his match,” Frain said. “Impact to his chest threw his heart off rhythm.
“He ended up finishing the match. Our trainer saw him on the edge, looking like he was about to pass out.”
Pettit told people he was fine and went through the post-match handshake line.
“He couldn’t make it back (to the bench area),” Frain said. “He basically passed out, went into seizures.”
Creston lost to Mediapolis, 46-28.
“I did not want to,” Frain said of going through with the match. “I talked to (Pettit’s) mom for quite a while.
“It was more her and the family. They just thought we should, and so we went ahead and did it.”