When Heritage senior Schuyler LaRue approaches the wrestling mat, he immediately gets an adrenaline rush. But on the day of the Tennessee state wrestling tournament in February, that rush was unlike one he'd ever experienced.
LaRue didn't expect to find himself in a "life-changing" position off the mat. In fact, he didn't expect to be inside the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Arena at all.
"I didn't have the drive to go, but my coach talked me into it," LaRue said. "At first I thought, 'I don't know why I'm here.'"
LaRue's self-described nonchalant attitude changed while he was in the restroom 15 minutes before his opening match, when 68-year-old Ron Bussey stumbled and hit his head.
"For a moment, I thought he was having seizures. His face turned white, and his lips turned blue. That was my key point," said LaRue, who served as a lifeguard for the past two summers. "His life was in my hands. If I didn't do something, he might die right there."
LaRue used his CPR training and sprung into action. He immediately put Bussey in a neutral position and started performing compressions. LaRue said Bussey's pulse went in and out, and he continued the compressions until an EMT arrived.
"I have never done what Schuyler did so it was hard for me to relate," said Heritage coach John Davis. "Schuyler is an exemplary young man. His conviction overcame youthful apprehension. He knew he had done all that he could."
LaRue said after he gargled hand soap and attempted to calm down and continue his warmup.
"I was really shocked that actually happened. My adrenaline was pumping, and my heart was kind of worn out after," he said.
LaRue went on to win his opening-round match against Brighton High's Essex Ramsey. Helost by one point in overtime against his rival, Kiel Russellof Clarksville, in a later round, but he said the experience was about more than wins and losses.
"I was put there for a reason," he said. "I would hope if I was in that situation, someone would be do the same for me."
Though LaRue has served as a lifeguard at the John Sevier swimming pool in Maryville for the past two summers, he said he has never administered CPR on the job. In fact, he didn't think he'd use his skills until in his future career as a physician assistant. What's more, he said lifeguarding was a summer job he pursued because he didn't want to work inside bagging groceries.
"The only thing I regretted was having to pay $200 to take the training course. That was a kick in the rear," said LaRue, who spent two-weekend long sessions at the University of Tennessee to learn first aid and CPR. "You can't put a price on a life so without a doubt, it was worth it."