BATON ROUGE, LA (WSFA) - An Auburn University gymnast is expected to undergo surgery Monday following career-ending injuries to both legs during a competition in Louisiana over the weekend.
“Senior Samantha Cerio suffered two dislocated knees Friday in Baton Rouge with multiple torn ligaments in both knees," said Auburn head gymnastics coach Jeff Graba in a statement released by the university. “Sam will undergo surgery [Monday] afternoon..."
According to reports, Cerio was in the process of executing what is known as a handspring double front at the NCAA’s Regional Semifinal competition Friday night when she landed on the mat at an awkward angle. She then fell backward onto the ground.
Cerio’s teammates watched and the crowd was silent before she was taken from the Baton Rouge competition on a stretcher.
“The Auburn Athletics Department is thankful for the outstanding care that the Auburn and the LSU medical staffs have provided to Sam," Graba said. "We also are thankful for the support from the LSU Athletics Department for going above and beyond in this situation. Sam is a fighter and is in great spirits. We couldn’t have a better leader for this team.”
Cerio took to Instagram Sunday to announce she’s “hanging up my grips and leaving the chalk behind,” effectively retiring from the sport she’s loved for 18 years.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the person that gymnastics has made me to become,” Cerio wrote. “It’s taught me hard work, humility, integrity, and dedication, just to name a few. It’s given me challenges and road blocks that I would have never imagined that has tested who I am as a person. It may not have ended the way I had planned, but nothing ever goes as planned.”
While her gymnastics career has come to an end, Cerio’s future is looking bright. The senior graduates in May with a degree in aerospace engineer and already has a job lined up with Boeing where she plans to work on rockets.
Cerio’s injuries stunned her teammates, but they rallied on for her. The No. 13 Tigers pulled in one of its top performances of the year Friday night posting a 197.075, the highest NCAA Regional score in program history, to finish second for the night.
The team advanced to regional finals the next night to be part of the program’s first ever Sweet 16 appearance where they finished in fourth place.