Staff Directory 6370470

Joe Christensen

Sports enterprise reporter | General assignment
Phone: 612-673-7844

Joe Christensen, a Star Tribune sports team leader, graduated from the University of Minnesota and spent 15 years covering Major League Baseball, including stops at the Riverside Press-Enterprise and Baltimore Sun. He joined the Star Tribune in 2005 and spent four years covering Gophers football.


The National Sports Media Association named Christensen as the 2003 Maryland Sportswriter of the Year and 2014 Minnesota Sportswriter of the Year.
Recent content from Joe Christensen
St. Thomas will be changing men's hockey conferences in two years.

St. Thomas men's hockey will switch conferences in two years

The Tommies will join two other Minnesota colleges and UND in the NCHC in 2026, a year that will mark another milestone in the transition from D-III to D-I sports.
Minnesota forward Liz Schepers shoots against Toronto goaltender Kristen Campbell during the third period of Monday night's victory at Xcel Energy Cen

PWHL Minnesota, with brutal streak over, looks to even series vs. Toronto

On Wednesday night, Minnesota meets Toronto at Xcel Energy Center in Game 4 of their PWHL playoff series.
Gophers shortstop Jess Oakland (9) and teammate Kayla Chavez (77) celebrate during a victory against Nebraska on Sunday at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Gophers shortstop Oakland named Big Ten softball player of the year

Jess Oakland, the Gophers' sophomore leader at shortstop, ranks among the nation's leaders in batting average (.455), home runs (19) and on-base percentage (.553).
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck waves to fans during the team's annual spring game on April 22, 2023 at the Athletes Village.

Gophers football punts spring game, adds new open practice idea

The Gophers football team won't have a spring game but will have one practice open exclusively to Dinkytown Athletes members
Fayetteville (Ark.) QB Drake Lindsey passed for 3,916 yards and 52 TDs with two interceptions this season.

Gophers QB recruit wins his state's Gatorade player of the year honor

Drake Lindsey of Fayetteville, Ark., has graduated early and will enroll this month at the university, making him eligible for spring practice.

Former Hopkins star Nnaji leaves basketball to pursue medical degree

Maya Nnaji, an Arizona sophomore basketball player from Hopkins, said she needs to focus on her primary goal: becoming a physician.

Michigan State scores late to tie Gophers men's hockey

The Spartans' Tiernan Shoudy deflected a waist-high shot from the point past Gophers goalie Justen Close with under four minutes remaining in regulation.

Michigan State scores late to tie Gophers men's hockey

Bob Motzko has coached the Gophers to back-to-back NCAA Frozen Four appearances.

Gophers reward Motzko with bigger deal than Wisconsin gave Hastings

The Gophers signed men's hockey coach Bob Motzko to a two-year contract extension, and moved his yearly compensation ahead of Mike Hastings' at Wisconsin.
Gophers goalie Justen Close has been solid all season and will look to continue that Friday and Sunday against Michigan State.

Gophers men's hockey set to face surprise Big Ten leader Michigan State

The Gophers have a 14-game winning streak against Michigan State, dating to 2019-20, but this looks like a different Spartans team.
Gopher fan Andrew Mercado and the rest of the student section celebrated a goal against Minnesota State Mankato on Oct. 7, 2022.

Touted NHL prospect Cole Eiserman flips from Gophers to BU

Massachusetts native Cole Eiserman was committed to the Gophers before announcing he was "coming home" to Boston University on Wednesday.
The Minnesota Marching Band will welcome the Gophers into Huntington Bank Stadium for the Ski-U-March and then perform on the field at 6:40 p.m.

Fan's guide to Gophers football season opener: New rules, new foods

The Gophers football team opens a new season Thursday vs. Nebraska (7 p.m.), and the festivities start hours earlier.
Running back Shawn Shipman (26) is one of nine all-conference honorees returning to the team this fall.

St. Thomas overwhelming favorite to repeat as Pioneer Football champ

The Tommies were picked first on eight of 10 coaches' poll ballots, with Davidson and San Diego the other teams to get a first-place vote.
Dawn Plitzuweit talked to an official during Friday’s loss for her West Virginia team in the NCAA tournament against Arizona.

New Gophers coach Dawn Plitzuweit at a glance

Plitzuweit hails from eastern Wisconsin, had a decorated playing career at Michigan Tech and has won at each of her coaching stops.
Bud Grant, playing for Gophers. 10/20/48 file photo

Five things to know about Bud Grant's Gophers career

Grant earned nine letters at Minnesota, in football, basketball and baseball and was twice named All-Big Ten in football, playing both offense and defense.
Gophers coach P. J. Fleck will have Greg Harbaugh and Matt Simon as co-offensive coordinators.

Greg Harbaugh named Gophers' new co-offensive coordinator

Coach P.J. Fleck quickly patched the hole left with offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca's departure to Rutgers by promoting Harbaugh.
Gophers offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca is a Pennsylvania native who coached at Penn State in 2020 before being fired after that one season.

Gophers' coordinator Ciarrocca leaving Gophers again, going to Rutgers

For the second time, Kirk Ciarrocca is leaving P.J. Fleck's coaching staff to become offensive coordinator at another Big Ten school.
Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) ran past Syracuse defensive back Justin Barron (23) during the first half of Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl.

Running back Ibrahim rewrites chapters in Gophers record book

Mohamed Ibrahim broke four Gophers football records during Thursday's Pinstripe Bowl.
Ohio State football coach Ryan Day’s signing class on Wednesday was ranked as the best in the Big Ten.

Big Ten and national recruiting rankings

Ohio State was first in the Big Ten recruiting rankings — the Gophers were ninth — and fifth in the national rankings
New Gophers volleyball coach Keegan Cook is scheduled to hold an introductory news conference with the Gophers on Monday at Maturi Pavilion.

New Gophers volleyball coach Cook will receive a $425,000 salary under new deal

The University's Board of Regents approved Keegan Cook's new contract on Friday, along with previously reported new deals for P.J. Fleck, Kirk Ciarrocca and Joe Rossi.
Hugh McCutcheon will stay at the university after stepping down as Gophers volleyball coach at season’s end.

Mystery solved: McCutcheon to be promoted to new job in U athletics

Promotion to a newly created job as an assistant athletic director answered a big question resulting from volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon's surprise resignation announcement.
Minnesota Gophers tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford (88) and running back Trey Potts (3) celebrate Spann-Ford's third quarter touchdown against the Western

2019 and 2022 Gophers football schedule comparison

This year's Gophers football team is already speculated to eclipse the 2019 team. Here's how the schedules for both years match up.
Minnesota Aurora forward Maya Hansen (right)

Five Aurora players to watch in Saturday's USL W title game

Minnesota Aurora has firepower, from goalkeeper Sarah Fuller to scoring ace Morgan Turner to unsung defender Rachel Preston.
Gophers coach Ben Johnson

Gophers men get first 2023 commitment from top-100 power forward

The Gophers men's basketball team got its first commitment for the Class of 2023 when Kadyn Betts announced he's heading to Minnesota.
Gophers coach PJ Fleck, middle, watched the team’s annual spring game on April 30.

Gophers land commitment from Michigan QB who flipped schools

Drew Viotto announced that he has switched his college commitment from Eastern Michigan to Minnesota for the 2023 season.
Gophers coach PJ Fleck watched over his team during the spring game on April 30.

Gophers land commitment from Prior Lake offensive lineman Greg Johnson

Johnson is the seventh player from the Class of 2023 to commit to the Gophers and the second from Prior Lake.
Former Gophers running back Mar’Keise (Bucky) Irving

Running back Irving transfers to Oregon; 6 Gophers sign free-agent deals

Bucky Irving was Minnesota's second leading rusher last season. Both he and Kai Thomas, the No. 1 rusher, have moved on to other Power Five schools.
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck

Gophers football team adds defensive line transfer from Houston Baptist

Defensive tackle Kyler Baugh has two years of eligibility remaining and will be making the jump from the FCS level.
Garrett Raboin

Augustana hires Gophers assistant as its first men's hockey coach

The Sioux Falls, S.D., school is scheduled to start competing in 2023-24, and will be led by Garrett Raboin, who has been the top assistant with the Gophers.
Macalester football coach Phil Nicolaides

Macalester hires 31-year-old Phil Nicolaides as its new football coach

Nicolaides spent the previous six seasons as defensive coordinator at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va.
Gophers AD Mark Coyle

Coyle's two-year extension approved by University of Minnesota regents

The Regents voted 9-2 in favor of Coyle's new deal, which runs through 2028. The deal adds more built-in raises for Coyle, whose current base salary is $999,375.
Sarah Fuller, the former Vanderbilt soccer and football player, signed with Minnesota Aurora FC.

History-making kicker Fuller signs with Minnesota Aurora FC

Sarah Fuller, a goalkeeper for Vanderbilt's women's soccer team, made headlines as the first woman to score a point in a Power Five conference football game.
P.J. Fleck is entering his sixth season as Gophers coach.

Four-star receiver Anthony Brown decommits from Gophers

Brown, the brother of Gophers receiver Michael Brown-Stephens, is part of the 2023 recruiting class.
Gophers Athletic Director Mark Coyle signed a two-year contract extension though 2028.

Gophers AD Coyle signs lucrative two-year contract extension through 2028

Mark Coyle can continue to make hundreds of thousands of dollars beyond his nearly $1 million base salary.
Weston McKennie (8) battled for the ball against Canada in Sunday’s World Cup soccer qualifier in Hamilton, Ontario.

Five USMNT players to watch vs. Honduras at Allianz Field

The American squad knows it needs a victory in this World Cup qualifier in St. Paul.
Gophers volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon has several highly decorated players arriving for next season.

U volleyball adds two transfers: Davis (from Ohio State) and McGhie (Kansas)

Coach Hugh McCutcheon is adding pieces to a team that reached the Elite Eight last season.
The Gophers allowed 17.3 points per game last season, sixth best in the nation.

Gophers football adds Brick Haley as defensive line coach

Haley has more than 30 years of experience, most recently as the defensive line coach at Missouri.
Matthew Knies celebrated a goal last month at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Red Deer, Alberta. Knies, a freshman forward for the Gopher

Minnesota's 2022 hockey Olympians

The Gophers, Minnesota State Mankato, St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth are all represented on the men's team.
The Gophers will now open Big Ten play next season at Michigan State on Sept. 24.

Big Ten makes major changes to Gophers' 2022 football schedule

The original schedule set up nicely for a strong Minnesota start. But without changing the teams on Minnesota's schedule, the conference dramatically altered the picture.
Chuck Filiaga, foreground, finished his Michigan career with a loss Dec. 31 in the College Football Playoff semifinals against Georgia.

Michigan offensive lineman Filiaga transferring to Gophers

After making 42 career starts for the Wolverines, Filiaga will have one year of eligibility remaining at Minnesota.
The Gophers are coming off a 9-4 season.

Gophers land another defensive line transfer from Clemson

Darnell Jefferies was teammates at Clemson with Nyles Pinckney, who transferred to the Gophers at this time last year.
The Gophers had one of the top defenses in the country this season and their assistant coaches are getting plucked for promotions elsewhere.

Third U football assistant leaves, will take Indiana defensive coordinator job

Chad Wilt, the defensive line coach, is the third departure from the Gophers coaching staff in four days. All have received promotions.
Minnesota Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen (13) pounded her chest in celebration after drawing a shooting foul in the first quarter against the Los Angeles S

Lindsay Whalen first-time nominee for Basketball Hall of Fame

The Gophers coach led the team to the Women's Final Four as a player before winning four WNBA titles with the Lynx and two gold medals with Team USA.
Former Minnesota United midfielder Ethan Finlay

Former Minnesota United veteran Ethan Finlay signs with Austin FC

Finlay was a mainstay for the Loons after arriving via trade in 2017, their first season in MLS.
Minnesota United players celebrated their Oct. 20 victory against the Philadelphia Union at Allianz Field.

Loons open 2022 schedule in Philadelphia; home opener is March 5

The Loons will open the season on the road, Feb. 26, and play the regular season finale at home on Oct. 9.
Gophers fan Kristian Tharaldson celebrated after a goal against Minnesota Duluth earlier this season.

New Year's treat: Gophers-Tommies men's hockey game set for Jan. 2

The game will be played at Doug Woog Arena in South St. Paul. Tickets go on sale Thursday morning.
Gophers coach Hugh McCutcheon

Gophers volleyball coach McCutcheon agrees to contract extension

Hugh McCutcheon new deal will keep him with the Gophers through the 2025 season, pending Board of Regents approval.
The Gophers are 7-2 at Maturi Pavilion heading into Sunday’s home match against No. 5 Wisconsin.

Rutgers forfeits Friday's volleyball match against Gophers

The Scarlet Knights announced that the decision not to travel to Minneapolis was non-COVID related.
Chaska fans and students greeted Gophers commit Mallory Heyer (24) after her team’s state tournament quarterfinal victory against Stillwater in Marc

Four in-state Gophers women's basketball recruits can make it official Wednesday

The local standouts have made their commitments to Lindsay Whalen and the Gophers heading into Wednesday's national signing day.
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck’s new contract calls for a $10 million buyout if he leaves before the end of 2022 and $7 million if he leaves before the en

Highlights of P.J. Fleck's new Gophers contract

Fleck's salary, buyout and assistant coaches' salary pool will all change under the terms of his new deal. Here's how.
JD Spielman (10) ran around Texas linebacker Cort Jaquess (57) during the first half of a TCU game on Oct. 3, 2020.

Eden Prairie's JD Spielman ending college football career, TCU coach says

The son of Vikings GM Rick Spielman had three strong years as a receiver at Nebraska before transferring to TCU, where he has battled injuries for two seasons.
Brad Frost, middle, has a 418-87-35 career record as Gophers women’s hockey coach. 

Frost agrees to three-year extension as Gophers women's hockey coach

Brad Frost, who has won four NCAA titles with the Gophers, will remain under contract through the 2023-24 season.
Trey Potts (3) went airborne on this second-quarter play for the Gophers against Bowling Green on Sept. 11.

Gophers' Potts leaves Indiana hospital after six days

The running back has been dealing with an unspecified medical condition suffered late in Saturday's Gophers victory at Purdue.
Minnesota United midfielder Emanuel Reynoso (10) and FC Dallas forward Jader Obrian (7) battled for the ball during last Saturday’s match in Frisco,

Red card overturned, Reynoso available for Sunday's Loons match

An independent review panel overturned a red card issued to Minnesota United star Emanuel Reynoso last Saturday against FC Dallas.
Gophers running back Trey Potts

U's Potts still in hospital five days after leaving Purdue game

Running back Trey Potts remained hospitalized in Indiana on Thursday, five days after being taken by ambulance after the Purdue game.
Minnesota State Mankato players celebrated a goal at last season’s Frozen Four in Pittsburgh.

Hockey domination: Minnesota schools have 4 of 5 top spots in men's poll

The college hockey season has barely just begun, but teams from Minnesota are sitting tall atop the national rankings, including the No, 4 Gophers.
The Gophers and goalie Jack LaFontaine will now open their season on Oct. 8 against Mercyhurst.

Gophers men's hockey opener postponed because of a COVID issue at Alaska

The series was rescheduled for Jan. 14-15 at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
Gophers coach Bob Motzko

Motzko agrees to three-year contract extension with U men's hockey

Bob Motzko will receive the extension and a raise under terms of a new agreement that needs to be approved by the Board of Regents.
St. Thomas linebacker Jack Mohler (40) is part of a defense that has allowed just seven touchdowns through five games.

Preview: St. Thomas football travels to Florida to face Stetson

The Tommies are back on the road this week, this time to the East Coast.
Bowling Green players celebrated Saturday.

Worst Gophers upset ever? Among the worst in recent decades, at least

Here are some of the other notable upsets for the Gophers under coach P.J. Fleck, others in their recent history and others around college football.
Gophers senior CC McGraw made a diving dig in the team’s four-set loss to No. 1 Texas on Sept. 1 at Maturi Pavilion.

Gophers, Tommies set for debut as Division I opponents on Thursday

Minnesota and St. Thomas have played before. But Thursday night's volleyball match at Maturi Pavilion will be their first competition as Division I opponents.
Gable Steveson, pictured at the 2021 NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 19 in St. Louis.

Steveson, U open wrestling season in Fargo, first home meet on Nov. 20

Gable Steveson will begin defense of his NCAA heavyweight title when the Gophers open their season at the Bison Open in Fargo.

Gophers 2021 football schedule

The 12-game schedule opens Thursday vs. Ohio State.
Fanendo Adi celebrated a goal for the Portland Timbers in 2018.

Loons sign veteran striker Adi, hoping he regains lost scoring touch

Fanendo Adi was a 6-foot-4 goal scoring force for the Portland Timbers from 2015-2017 but has scored only four MLS goals since then.
Josh Campion

Former Gophers lineman sues U, NCAA, Big Ten over concussion treatment

Josh Campion started all 39 games the Gophers played between 2012-14 under former coach Jerry Kill, and was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten offensive tackle in 2014.
O’Shaughnessy Stadium

St. Thomas' D-I football opener canceled due to opponent's COVID protocols

The Tommies said they are looking to find another opponent to replace St. Francis on Sept. 4, which was scheduled to be their first game as a Division I team.
Sarah Bacon

Gophers diver Bacon named Big Ten female athlete of the year

Sarah Bacon has won four NCAA titles for the Gophers, including two this March.
Target Field

Twins take pair of Big Ten pitchers to start second day of MLB draft

The Twins took pitchers from Michigan and Nebraska, and followed by taking a third baseman from Oklahoma State. Read about them and tap here for live video of the draft.
Kenta Maeda notched a career-high 10 strikeouts last Sunday in Kansas City.

Twins starter Kenta Maeda faces Tigers, coming off best outing of the season

Maeda blanked Kansas City for six innings in his previous start, which included a new uniform look.
Kendall Coyne Schofield (26) and Hannah Brandt (20) celebrated after a goal against Finland in the 2018 Winter Olympics en route to the gold medal.

Six Minnesota players among 27 in the mix for U.S. Olympic women's hockey team

The U.S. residency roster includes six players from Minnesota, the most of any state, and eight current or former Gophers, including Amanda Kessel.
Dawson Garcia averaged 13 points and six rebounds per game as a freshman at Marquette last season.

Former Prior Lake standout Dawson Garcia transferring from Marquette to North Carolina

The 6-11 Garcia spent one season at Marquette, which has undergone a coaching change from Steve Wojciechowski to Shaka Smart.
Jason Williamson was named Minnesota Mr. Football in 2018.

Gophers RB and former Owatonna standout Williamson medically retires

Williamson, who rushed for more than 3,000 yards as a high school senior, has battled injuries at the U.
Coach Steve Plasencia times Hassan Mead in during sprints in 2011.

Plasencia ends 'pretty long run' with Gophers programs

Steve Plasencia retired as Gophers men's cross country coach and assistant track and field coach Thursday, saying the decision was unrelated to the University of Minnesota's decision to cut indoor track.
Eric Curry (24) played a key role off the bench for the Gophers last season.

Gophers' Curry pauses graduate assistant coaching plan to play one more season

Eric Curry was ready to take on a graduate assistant role with Ben Johnson's staff but is returning to play for a sixth season.
Minnesota State Mankato players celebrated after a goal at this year’s Frozen Four, in one of the team’s final moments as a WCHA team.

WCHA's men's hockey era officially ends after 70 years

The league shuttered operations this week, as expected, following the departure of seven teams that have joined the newly revived CCHA.