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Samantha Cerio
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What started as a simple floor routine, something she had done time and time again throughout her career, ended in a horrific scene of pain. Watching someone get significantly injured is always tough, but what happened at the NCAA Regional Semifinal meet in Baton Rouge, Louisiana will make you feel even worse.

Auburn Tigers senior Samantha Cerio was her team’s floor exercise anchor and was on her first pass when it all happened. And really, everything looked to go as planned. She executed her front handspring double front pretty well. However, on her blind landing, something went horribly wrong.

Cerio suffered a devastating leg injury nobody would wish on even their worst enemies. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, who had preliminary knowledge of the injury, the two-time All-SEC gymnast broke both of her legs and dislocated both of her knees. Auburn coach Jeff Garba confirmed on Monday that Celio suffered two dislocated knees and multiple torn ligaments in both knees.

WARNING: This video is graphic.

As soon as the Auburn University gymnast landed, everyone inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center knew it was bad. It just makes you cringe watching it on video. Imagine being there at the Baton Rouge regional final location and a star gymnast breaks her legs.

“It was pretty tough to watch,” Auburn coach Jeff Graba told NOLA.com. “She’s a trooper. The last thing she said was, ‘Go help the girls.’ The girls rallied around her. They’re doing this for her right now.”

Once the gruesome injury happened, LSU medical staff rushed to her and paramedics put air casts around both of her legs. She received a standing ovation as she was carted off on a stretcher. The 22-year-old is expected to have surgery on Monday with Dr. James Andrews.

A 5-foot senior from Huntersville, North Carolina, Sam Cerio is the perfect example of what a NCAA student-athlete is all about. She is an aerospace engineering major that made her the Southeastern Conference Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year for gymnastics and helped her land a job with Boeing in Seattle when she graduates in May.

Cerio was also a star gymnast, earning SEC All-Freshman Team honors in 2016 and All-SEC honors in 2017 and 2018 while competing on the bars, beam and floor.

It’s beyond tragic to see all of the hard work she put in for years end with a terrible injury during a blind landing on a tumbling pass she’s practiced since she was a little kid. And on Sunday, she announced her retirement from gymnastics on social media.

View this post on Instagram

Friday night was my final night as a gymnast. After 18 years I am hanging up my grips and leaving the chalk behind. I couldn’t be prouder of the person that gymnastics has made me to become. 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. Thank you Auburn family for giving me a home and a chance to continue doing the sport that will always be my first love. I am honored to have had the privilege to represent the navy and orange AU for the past 4 years with my team by my side. Thank you for letting me share my passion with you. Thank you for letting me be a part of something bigger than myself. War Eagle Always 💙🧡

A post shared by Samantha Cerio (@sam_cerio) on

“Friday night was my final night as a gymnast. After 18 years I am hanging up my grips and leaving the chalk behind. I couldn’t be prouder of the person that gymnastics has made me to become. 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.

“Thank you Auburn family for giving me a home and a chance to continue doing the sport that will always be my first love. I am honored to have had the privilege to represent the navy and orange AU for the past 4 years with my team by my side. Thank you for letting me share my passion with you. Thank you for letting me be a part of something bigger than myself.

“War Eagle Always.”

—Auburn Gymnast Samantha Cerio

In time, Cerio’s injury from the NCAA gymnastics regional will heal. However, everyone will be cheering for her with the hashtag #stickitforsam until she recovers.

UPDATE: April 10, 2019

Samantha Cerio underwent surgery on Monday with Dr. James Andrews on her two dislocated knees and multiple torn ligaments in both knees. Auburn Gymnastics coach Jeff Graba said it was a successful.

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

Although the timetable for recovery is unknown at the moment, Samantha Cerio has one goal in mind: Walk down the aisle at her wedding in two months.

“She wants to walk down the aisle and get married, and we’re hoping she can do that,” Graba told NBC News.

READ MORE: Gymnast Delivers a Ball-Bustin’ Perfect 10 to Remind Us Why She’s the Champ

Author placeholder image About the author:
With over 10 years of sports writing experience, Brett has covered some of the top local, regional, and national sporting events in the Heartland for both print and digital platforms. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and resides in Austin, Texas.
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