"Sam's surgery lasted two and a half hours and was an extreme success," coach Jeff Graba said

By Rachel DeSantis
April 09, 2019 10:49 AM
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Samantha Cerio
Tony Gutierrez/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Samantha Cerio, the Auburn University gymnast who suffered a devastating knee injury while competing, Friday, is on the mend after undergoing surgery.

Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said Cerio’s surgery was an “extreme success,” and that she is on the road to recovery.

“Sam’s surgery lasted two and a half hours and was an extreme success,” Graba wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “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.”

Graba, Auburn’s head coach since 2010, previously said on social media that Cerio would undergo surgery Monday with Dr. James Andrews.

Cerio’s 18-year gymnastics career came to a tragic end Friday after she dislocated and tore ligaments in both of her knees while competing at the NCAA Regional Semifinal in Baton Rouge.

The 22-year-old student-athlete sustained the injuries after she touched down badly while doing a blind landing on a tumbling pass.

Cerio clutched her legs in pain and openly cried as she was treated by Louisiana State University paramedics for what Graba told the Times-Picayune was an injury unlike any he’d ever seen.

Samantha Cerio
Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Despite Cerio’s injury, her teammates went on to earn an overall score of 197.075 — the second-highest for the Tigers all season, the Times-Picayune reported. It earned them a spot in Saturday’s regional final, according to the Times-Picayune.

Cerio addressed the sudden end to her days as a gymnast in an Instagram post Sunday, writing that she “couldn’t be prouder of the person” gymnastics has made her.

“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,” she wrote. “It may not have ended the way I planned, but nothing ever goes as planned.”

Her caption ended with a note of thanks to her teachers and teammates. “Thank you Auburn family for giving me a home and a chance to continue doing the sport that will always be my first love,” Cerio shared. “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.”

The Huntersville, North Carolina, native is set to graduate Auburn in May with an aerospace engineering degree, and already has a job lined up at Boeing in Seattle.