Auburn gymnast undergoes surgery after severely injuring both legs

Auburn’s Samantha Cerio smiles and signals to the crowd before competing on the uneven parallel bars
Auburn’s Samantha Cerio smiles before competing at the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships April 14, 2017, in St. Louis.
(Jeff Roberson / Associated Press)

Auburn senior Samantha Cerio’s college gymnastics career ended at least one meet early Friday night when she severely injured both of her legs while trying to nail a landing during an NCAA regional semifinal against Louisiana State in Baton Rouge, La.

Cerio’s floor routine includes a handspring double front on her first pass. On that particular night, both of her knees buckled in the wrong direction, leaving the two-time All-SEC gymnast “screaming in agony on the floor,” according to the Times-Picayune.

Two days later, Cerio acknowledged in an Instagram post that “Friday night was my final night as a gymnast,” but didn’t mention the injury, as painful and heartbreaking as it must have been. Instead, she focuses on the positive aspects of her four years with the Auburn gymnastics team.


“I couldn’t be prouder of the person that gymnastics has made me to become,” wrote Cerio, an aerospace engineering major who has accepted a job to work for Boeing in Seattle. “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.”

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Auburn coach Jeff Graba said in a statement Monday that Cerio suffered two dislocated knees with multiple torn ligaments in both knees and was scheduled for surgery that afternoon.

“Sam is a fighter and is in great spirits,” Graba stated, “We couldn’t have a better leader for this team.”


Graba tweeted Tuesday: “Sam’s surgery lasted two and a half hours and was an extreme success. We know the road for full healing is going to be a long and difficult one, but we are confident that she’ll be able to make a complete recovery.”

The video of Cerio’s injury appears below. (Warning: The video is gruesome and may be difficult to watch.)

In addition to her Instagram post, Cerio has also been active on Twitter since the accident, expressing gratitude to her supporters.

The Tigers defeated LSU on Friday night to advance to the regional final, where their season ended with a fourth-place finish. Auburn’s Derrian Gobourne qualified for the national championships in Fort Worth as an individual in the vault. UCLA will be on hand at the meet to defend its national title.


Twitter: @chewkiii