Samantha Cerio had a stellar career as an Auburn University gymnast, but it came to an end in tragic fashion this weekend as the senior faltered on a landing and broke both legs in an accident that will end her collegiate career.
Cerio was competing in a regional event on Friday when she attempted a handspring double front with a blind landing and missed her mark, falling hard to the mat. As The New York Post reported, Cerio screamed in agony and clutched her legs as medical staff rushed to her side.
A report from Nola noted the difficult diagnosis — Cerio had dislocated both of her knees and broken both of her legs.
While Samantha Cerio had to leave the event on a stretcher, her team was able to rally in her absence and make school history. The Tigers finished with an overall score of 197.075, the highest regional score in the program’s history.
Cerio had been a standout for the program for the last four years. While focusing on the floor routine, she made the All-SEC and All-SEC Academic Honor Roll in both 2017 and 2018, and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team in 2016.
While the accident itself and the particularly gruesome nature of her injury attracted some national attention, so too did Cerio’s resolve in the face of the injury and how she responded. While still recovering, Cerio took to Twitter to celebrate in her team’s win and shared some words of encouragement for her teammates.
.@AuburnGym star @sam_cerio breaks both legs & dislocates both knees at NCAA Regional at @LSUgym per @NOLAnews— Rick Karle (@RickKarle) April 6, 2019
Why Sam is considered a role model, & why we need more like her: https://t.co/6KNvMmeScW@jeffgraba @SEC
Pic from @auburnu#PrayersUp pic.twitter.com/XCVzfiYwQO
Cerio later took to Instagram to make a bittersweet post saying goodbye to the sport. Cerio wrote that after 18 years, she was “hanging up my grips and leaving the chalk behind.”
Cerio went on to write that gymnastics had helped shape her as a person, and that she looked back on her time in the sport fondly, even if it wasn’t the ending she had envisioned.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the person that gymnastics has made me to become,” she 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.”
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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 ????????
Video of Samantha Cerio’s injury — and the team’s rally in her wake to record a program-record score — can be seen in the NCAA’s YouTube coverage of the meet, but be warned that the injury may be difficult to watch for some viewers.