Injured gymnast from Huntersville undergoes surgery on both knees

BATON ROUGE, La. — A college student from Huntersville said she's ending her career as a gymnast after a horrifying injury to both her legs over the weekend.

Auburn officials said Samantha Cerio, who suffered the devastating leg injuries during an NCAA regional semifinal, underwent surgery.

>> Watch the pass here (WARNING: Some viewers may find this video difficult to watch.)

A statement released by Auburn gymnastics coach Jeff Graba said Cerio, a senior from Huntersville, suffered two dislocated knees during the competition held Friday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Graba said Dr. James Andrews operated on the athlete on Monday for injuries that include multiple torn ligaments in both knees.

"It was pretty tough to watch. She's a trooper," Graba said of Cerio, who was carried out of the arena on a stretcher.

Her team, which went on to compete in the regional final but failed to advance to the national championships, showed support for Cerio on social media with the hashtag #StickItForSam.

>> See one of the tweets here

Cerio’s legs buckled during a floor exercise when she landed badly at the end of a tumbling run. She immediately clutched both legs in pain.

While reports first suggested that both her legs were broken, Graba said on Monday that no bones were shattered in the fall.

The meet was delayed while medical workers put splints on both of her legs. They carried her out of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center to a standing ovation.

In an Instagram post Sunday, Cerio announced that the competition marked her "final night as a gymnast."

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"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."

>> See the post here

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Cerio's parents were asking for everyone to pray for her recovery. Cerio trained at Everest Gymnastics in Huntersville for years.

The gym said it was heartbroken and is sending thoughts and prayers.

Everest Gym came under scrutiny last year after several gymnasts accused the owner, Qi Han, of calling them names and throwing things at them.

That included Cerio.