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
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.
Former Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen is a six-time WNBA All-Star and three-time All-WNBA first-team selection and is also the league’s career leader in

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

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.
Longtime U track and field coach Steve Plasencia, shown timing Hassan Mead’s sprints in 2011, spent 25 years with the Gophers.

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.
Paige Bueckers, Chet Holgren (top right) and Gable Steveson (bottom right) have huge social media followings which would add to the value of their end

Three Minnesota athletes who could profit most off NCAA's 'NIL' ruling

These Minnesota natives have more than 1.3 million Instagram followers combined, which adds to what they can command for endorsement deals.
Lucas Heyer

Top-rated Minnesota football recruit commits to Stanford

The Gophers were one of several other Power Five teams that offered Hill-Murray's Lucas Heyer, a consensus four-star recruit, a scholarship.
TCF Bank Stadium will become Huntington Bank Stadium.

U regents approve name change to Huntington Bank Stadium

The stadium had been known as TCF Bank Stadium since it opened in 2009, but Huntington Bank's merger with TCF was finalized this month.
The proposed logo for the Gophers football stadium, which the Board of Regents will vote on Tuesday.

Gophers football stadium name changing, pending Regents approval

The name change from TCF Bank Stadium is being made because Huntington Bancshares and TCF Financial announced a merger in December.
Tony Jennison guided Macalester to a 9-2 finish in 2014.

Macalester football coach Tony Jennison resigning to become fundraiser for college

Jennison, the Scots' winningest coach in 50 years, led the school to the 2014 Division III playoffs.
New Missouri women’s soccer coach Stefanie Golan

Gophers soccer coach Stefanie Golan leaves for Missouri job

Golan, the 2016 Big Ten Coach of the Year, hails from St. Charles, Mo., and spent nine seasons coaching the Gophers.
Gophers defensive coordinator Joe Rossi

U defensive coordinator Rossi agrees to one-year extension with a raise

Joe Rossi's new deal would keep him under contract through the 2022 season, pending regents approval.
Associated Press photo Gophers senior Lexy Ramler

All-Americans Ramler, Loper returning to U gymnastics next season

Senior Lexy Ramler and Ona Loper, who helped lead the team to its first Big Ten title since 2006, will use the extra year of eligibility allowed because of the pandemic.
Seth Green scored one of his 15 career rushing touchdowns for the Gophers.

Seth Green leaving Gophers football to play for Houston

The wildcat quarterback entered the transfer portal in February and will be heading back to Texas, where he also played some of his high school football.
Jalen Suggs celebrated after hitting the game-winning three-pointer in Gonzaga’s NCAA semifinal victory over UCLA.

Suggs leaving Gonzaga for NBA draft after one college season

Former Minnehaha Academy star Jalen Suggs made the announcement the same day his good friend Chet Holmgren committed to the Zags.
Colorado College hockey captain Grant Cruikshank, a Hobey Baker nominee this past season, is transferring to the Gophers.

Colorado College captain Cruikshank transferring to Gophers

Grant Cruikshank, the son of Olympic speedskaters Bonnie Blair and David Cruikshank, has two years of college eligibility remaining.
Payton Willis played for the Gophers two seasons ago.

Coming and going: Willis transferring back to Gophers; Mashburn lands at New Mexico

Payton Willis spent last season at College of Charleston, and Jamal Mashburn Jr. is reuniting with former Gophers coach Richard Pitino.
St. Thomas football coach Glenn Caruso

St. Thomas, Augsburg postpone football game because of COVID-19 protocols

The Tommies will instead hold an intrasquad scrimmage, and Augsburg will face Martin Luther on Sunday in New Ulm.
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck led the team onto the field for the 2017 spring game at TCF Bank Stadium.

Gophers set spring football game for May 1, quickly announce 10,000-fan sellout

Two hours after announcing the free tickets were available online, the Gophers said they were sold out and directed fans to a waiting list.
Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen has a new option at center for next season.

Former Edina standout Bailey Helgren joining Gophers as graduate transfer from Kansas

The 6-5 center will be eligible to play for the Gophers this coming season.
Stephanie Samedy delivered a set-winning spike against Penn State on Feb. 14 at Maturi Pavilion.

Gophers' Samedy earns Big Ten Volleyball Player of the Year award

The senior from Florida is the seventh Gophers player to win the award, and two other teammates joined her on the Big Ten's first team.
St. Thomas and St. John’s met at Target Field in 2017.

St. John's won't play spring football, ending storied rivalry with St. Thomas

The Johnnies listed several factors that led to their decision, including the logistical challenges of competing amid the pandemic.
Martice Mitchell (2) celebrated on the bench during a December victory.

Gophers freshman Martice Mitchell enters transfer portal

The 6-10 center from Chicago played sparingly this season.
Forward Jamison Battle (23), playing for DeLaSalle against Waseca in the 2019 state tournament, committed to the Gophers through the transfer portal f

Ex-DeLaSalle star Battle becomes Johnson's first commitment at U

Jamison Battle, a 6-7 forward, averaged 17.3 points and 5.2 rebounds at George Washington last season.
Because of the pandemic, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be held at venues in and around Indianapolis. The women’s tournament will be si

Indiana welcomes you: A look at this year's unusual NCAA men's basketball tournament

A different March Madness awaits, with the entire 2021 Big Dance enclosed in Indianapolis and surrounding communities.
Whitecaps goalie Amanda Leveille celebrated with the Isobel Cup on March 17, 2019.

Whitecaps get new chance to defend NWHL crown March 26-27

The NWHL rescheduled its postseason after calling off games because of a COVID-19 outbreak last month in Lake Placid.
Minnesota defenseman Jackson LaCombe (2) and forward Nathan Burke (21) skated off the ice Saturday following their 8-1 loss against Wisconsin.

U men's hockey drops to 5th in poll; women still No. 2 behind Badgers

The Gophers men's team was at No. 2 before getting swept against Wisconsin by scores of 4-1 and 8-1 last weekend.
Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) has announced that he’ll be back with the team next season.

Gophers football 2021 schedule tweaked with one notable change

Instead of finishing the Big Ten season with a Black Friday game against Nebraska, the Gophers will now conclude by hosting the Border Battle.
Tracy Claeys spent last season as the linebackers coach at Virginia Tech, which finished 5-6.

Former U head coach Claeys leaves Virginia Tech, announces retirement

Claeys, who said he has lost 125 pounds, said his decision was not health related and left open the possibility of returning to coaching.
RENÉE JONES SCHNEIDER • Star Tribune Gophers coach P.J. Fleck reeled in a once-promising wide receiver recruit who had mostly been idling for one o

Gophers football picks up transfers from two Power Five schools

Minnesota is getting a former four-star recruit who didn't see much playing time at Texas A&M and a graduate transfer from North Carolina State.
Gophers forward Grace Zumwinkle tracked the puck in front of Wisconsin goalie Kristen Campbell last November at Ridder Arena.

Gophers women's hockey opener set for Nov. 21 against Ohio State

The WCHA announced a partial schedule, with eight games for each team before the holidays.
Sid Hartman got as far inside the Gophers football program as anyone. His dedication earned a 99th birthday tribute from coach P.J. Fleck.

To the very end, Sid Hartman's passion was U football

Even with a coronavirus pandemic confining him mostly to his home, Hartman arranged a ride to coach P.J. Fleck's house in mid-May, for a driveway interview.
Michele Redman

Gophers women's golf coach Michele Redman announces retirement

Redman had been the team's coach since 2011, and the U plans a national search to replace her.
Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta

Iowa cuts four sports as pandemic creates major budget shortfall

Iowa announced that with the Big Ten's postponement of fall sports, its athletic department projects a $100 million budget deficit.
Minnesota played Penn State in front of a sell-out crowd at TCF Bank Stadium last season.

Reports: Big Ten planning on postponing football, possibly to spring

The Big Ten is close to postponing football season, possibly from fall to spring semester because of the pandemic, with an announcement expected in coming days, according to multiple news outlets.
Randy Sampson and Curt Sampson, pictured last year.

Canterbury Park owner Curt Sampson dies at age 87

He built a telecommunications network from Hector, Minn., and helped rescue Canterbury in 1994.
St. Thomas and St. John’s will be playing a conference-only slate this season after the MIAC canceled nonconference fall sports.

MIAC, Midwest Conference cancel nonconference games for fall sports

The MIAC on Thursday joined the growing list of college sports leagues nationally that have banned nonconference games for fall sports.
The basketball court at the Anderson Athletic & Recreation Complex at the University of St. Thomas.

Historic move: St. Thomas gets NCAA approval for Division I move

It's the first time in the NCAA's modern era that a school has received permission to reclassify from Division III to Division I.
The 15th Avenue entrance to the Land O'Lakes Center for Excellence.

19 Gophers sports programs post perfect APR scores, a school record

Minnesota's previous record was 18 programs in the NCAA's annual look at each team's Academic Progress Rate.
Gophers AD Mark Coyle (left) shook hands with football coach P.J. Fleck after the team’s win against Illinois last October.

Gophers AD Mark Coyle receives two-year contract extension, raise

The new deal, approved by the Board of Regents, gives Coyle an annual salary of $975,000 and the chance to earn more through incentives.