BATON ROUGE, La. (WIAT) — A rehearsed floor routine ended abruptly for Auburn University gymnast Sam Cerio during Friday’s NCAA gymnastics region in Baton Rouge, Lousiana. A senior studying Aerospace Engineering at the university, Cerio leaped into a handspring double front and landed early, dislocating her knees and breaking both of her legs, according to the Times-Picayune and ESPN.
“It was pretty tough to watch,” Auburn coach Jeff Graba said, according to the Times-Picayune. “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.”
According to ESPN, athletic trainers and medical staff worked on Cerio for nearly eight minutes before she was removed from the floor on a stretcher.
Cerio, who specialized in floor routines and uneven bars, shared tweets giving gratitude after the meet. Auburn finished with a score of 197.075, second behind host school LSU, to advance to Saturday’s Regional Final.
Cerio tweeted, “I love my team. #WarEagle”
Auburn Gymnastics later tweeted,
“I think we all just had @sam_cerio in the back of our minds. We were pushing through for her. #StickItforSam
In an Instagram post, Cerio announced that the competition marked her “final night as a gymnast.”
“After 18 years I am hanging up my grips and leaving the chalk behind,” she wrote. “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.”
She continued: “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.”
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