York track coach stepped up to save fallen jumper

First aid and CPR are skills that can go unused for years, even decades.

Then one day, there's nothing more important than having the ability to save someone in need.

York assistant girls track coach Niko Karavolos rose to the occasion last month and helped save the life of senior Chloe Peot, who collapsed while competing in the triple jump.

“I've done the CPR training and I've been in the fitness and athletics industry for about 15, 18 years,” Karavolos said. “In all that time, thank God, this is only once that it's ever happened. So it was a surreal experience, it kind of was like an autopilot thing.”

Peot has returned to school and was cheering on teammates at the Lake Park sectional this week. But she doesn't remember anything that happened on the day of April 12.

“It's been going really well,” Peot said. “I'm thankful I've been able to come back for two weeks. It was cardiac arrest, but they don't know what caused it or anything.”

Peot was competing with York at the Downers Grove North invite that day. Karavolos, who coaches horizontal jumps and sprints, was standing near the triple-jump runway when Peot collapsed after completing a jump.

“The Downers Grove head coach (Matthew Maletich) got my attention,” Karavolos said. “So I ran over to (Peot) and realized something wasn't right. She wasn't responding to anything we were doing. She didn't look like a kid that had just fainted.”

Peot's mom was at the meet, so they quickly called 911, while Karavolos continued to assess the situation.

“Couldn't find a strong pulse, breathing was irregular,” he said. “As we were talking to the emergency response on the phone, it eventually got to the point where it seemed like the next intervention needed to be CPR. So I started chest compressions until the paramedics got there.”

Fortunately, Downers Grove North is close to the firehouse, and Good Samaritan Hospital is about a mile away. Karavolos estimated he did CPR for three to four minutes.

Obviously, a track invitational is a hectic event with plenty of athletes and spectators. York teammate Kate Krupa described her view of the scene.

“I initially thought it was an older parent or something,” Krupa said. “Then we figured out it was one of the girls, then a York girl. Everyone was really scared.

“I had to throw during it. I was like, 'This feels really wrong.' It was just scary. We were all thinking, 'Why did that happen?'”

Karavolos and head coach Amy Lichon went to the hospital and provided updates to team members.

Peot was planning to continue track at Wisconsin-Whitewater. She has a stress test scheduled in a few weeks, which could determine if she's ready to increase activity.

Whatever the future holds, the message to this story is be prepared. There's no telling when CPR training could become a vital, life-saying skill.

“For me, out of all this, I hope to really push the idea that even if you're just a spectator or a parent that is volunteering in youth sports, there should always be education provided on this type of stuff,” said Karavolos, who has coached at York since 2021.

“Such a simple couple hours once a year to really give a kid a chance to save their life if this ever happens to anyone else. Unfortunately, it will happen and that's why people need to be prepared.”

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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