Gymnast Dislocates Knees, Snaps Ligaments During Floor Routine

By Colin Fredericson

A college gymnast dislocated both knees in front of 5,537 people watching an NCAA gymnastics tournament in Baton Rouge.

Sam Cerio went up for a double front flip on her first turn at the NCAA Regional Semifinal competition. When she came down she had to be removed on a stretcher and in air casts, The Advocate reported.

“It was pretty tough to watch,” said Cerio’s coach at Auburn University, Jeff Graba, via The Times-Picayune.

Graba told The Times-Picayune that he had never seen an injury like it, and he has been coaching gymnastics since the 1980s.

Initial reports said that Cerio broke both legs, but Graba clarified her injuries, in a statement posted to Facebook:

“Senior Samantha Cerio suffered two dislocated knees Friday in Baton Rouge with multiple torn ligaments in both knees. Sam will undergo surgery this afternoon with Dr. James Andrews.

“The Auburn Athletics Department is thankful for the outstanding care that the Auburn and the LSU medical staffs have provided to Sam. 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.”

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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 ????????

A post shared by Samantha Cerio (@sam_cerio) on

Graba said via The Times-Picayune that Cerio executed the maneuver well, but was still too high in the air and stuck out her legs too early for a safe landing.

Cerio is a team leader and a solid performer. She was named SEC Co-scholar Athlete of the Year in March.

“Samantha is the embodiment of what a student-athlete is,” said Graba. “She does everything with a passion and dedication and really enjoys doing it. Sam is one of the best ambassadors for our sport in the history of our program and we are really proud of all she’s accomplished so far.”

Cerio is from Huntersville, North Carolina, and is a senior at Auburn, headed for a career in aerospace engineering, according to Auburn University Athletics.

She is one of the nations top college gymnasts on bars, and a solid performer on the floor, as well.

“Sam is just so passionate in everything she does, especially with this team. So I circled everybody together and I said, ‘We’re not going to do this. We’re not going to get sad. We can be sad later because it is sad. But we’re going to do what she would want us to do and light this fire,” said Cerio’s Auburn teammate, Abby Milliet, via Auburn University Athletics. “This is time for us to have a new fire. Sam wouldn’t want us to give up. She would fight harder.'”

“Sam wouldn’t want us to fall apart. Sam is the most team-oriented, team-spirited person on our team. She wants everything for the team,” said Cerio’s teammate Drew Watson, via Auburn University Athletics. “She always has the stuff that we need. Whether it’s nail clippers or hair stuff, she’s always there. And she wouldn’t want us to fall apart.”

Auburn was able to pull together after Cerio’s injury and come in second place to host Louisiana State University (LSU), advancing to the regional finals. The competition included eight teams overall.

Cerio made a statement via Instagram, on April 7.

“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.”

During the next day’s regional finals, Auburn wasn’t able to pull ahead, and won’t advance to the NCAA Gymnastics Championships scheduled to take place in Texas on April 19 and 20, ESPN indicates.