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Charlotte Murphy reaches for the bar during her routine on Jan. 26 in St. Michael. The Tigers and Murphy fell to the Knights 133.250 to 118.750. 

It had been a long time off for the Princeton gymnastics team. Entering into the team’s meet on Jan. 26 against former conference-foe, St. Michael-Albertville, it had been nearly a year since the team last competed together.

Though falling to the Knights 133.250 to 118.750, the Tigers were just happy to be back.

“We really just had fun. I told all the girls to just go have fun and I feel like they did. It wasn’t perfect meet but overall they did well,” said Princeton Head Coach Nikki Van Der Zwaag.

Senior Sydney Christenson also enjoyed the chance to get back and compete but admits there were a few cobwebs to shake off. “It felt great, but everybody was really rusty. It was really hard to get back into the flow of everything,” she said.

Christenson was able to lead the Tigers with her third place finish on the all-around leader board with a score of 32.775. Fellow senior, Charlotte Murphy wasn’t too far behind as she placed fifth.

For vault, Christenson placed fourth, scoring an 8.5, bars saw Murphy lead Princeton with another fourth place finish, notching 7.325 points in the category. Beam and floor each once again saw Christenson pace the Tigers with second and fourth place finishes, respectively.

Starting the season off with a solid team like STMA was a good reference point to see where the team is at believes Christenson. “St. Michael was a really good starting point for us. The girls were able to have fun with it. We didn’t have our hopes too high with scoring, we just wanted to get out there and have fun,” she said, adding that some of the teams they will face in their upcoming schedule will be much tougher.

Though enjoying the chance to be back competing into year with COVID-19, there have been many changes to familiar routines for the team.

Van Der Zwaag hopes to combat that by encouraging the girls to focus on having fun with the sport and to keep things from getting too complicated. “We are just going to keep on focusing on doing what we love. We are just going to keep it simple and keep our routines clean,” said Van Der Zwaag.

Princeton will aim to continue to shake off the rust and tighten up their routines on Feb. 6, as North Branch and Rush City will come to town.

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