Staff Directory 6370572

Rachel Blount

Reporter/Columnist | Sports
Phone: 612-673-4389

Rachel Blount is a sports reporter for the Star Tribune who covers a variety of topics, including the Olympics, Wild, college sports and horse racing. She has written extensively about Minnesota's Olympic athletes and has covered pro and college hockey since joining the staff in 1990. 

An Iowa native, Blount is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. She has won numerous state and national writing awards. Her favorite stories to tell are those that convey the emotion and humanity of sports. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Pat Borzi, who also is a sportswriter.
Recent content from Rachel Blount
Gophers defenders Stephanie Samedy (10) and Shea Rubright attempted to block a shot by Pittsburgh’s Kylee Levers on Sunday.

Pittsburgh drives Gophers out of NCAA volleyball tournament

Unseeded Panthers spring an upset on No. 3 Minnesota in the Sweet 16.
Minnesota’s Shane Wiskus competes on the high bar during the NCAA men’s gymnastics championships Saturday

118-year era ends for U men's gymnastics; Wiskus wins two titles

Competing in their home gym for the final time as a varsity program, the Gophers finished with 406.291 points at the NCAA meet, their highest total of the season, good for fifth place.
Minnesota’s Shane Wiskus competes in the floor exercise during the NCAA men’s gymnastics championships Friday

Wiskus leads Gophers into men's gymnastics NCAA team finals

The Gophers rallied in the final two events of Friday's qualifying session to advance to Saturday's team finals, giving them one more day to compete together before the program shuts down.
Gophers men’s gymnastics coach Mike Burns celebrated a clean dismount by Ben Eyles off the high bar during a meet against Iowa in January. Both the

Coach sees opportunity as an era ends in Gophers men's gymnastics

The 118-year run of men's gymnastics as a varsity program is ending this weekend, cut by an athletic department wrestling with a budget deficit. Here's what's next.
Stephanie Samedy

Statistics don't come close to explaining what Samedy brings U volleyball

Stephanie Samedy was a standout from the start in her Gophers career but has continued to evolve and puts up big numbers. She also is one of the team's calming leaders.
Opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy is one reason the Gophers, seeded third, are one of the tournament favorites. The 6-2 senior led the Big Ten in kills

Gophers volleyball seeded third in one-site, 48-team NCAA tournament

The NCAA women's volleyball championships begin Wednesday in Omaha with a reduced field, a new format and a dash of controversy. The Gophers play Thursday.
Susanne Lyons, chairwoman of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Questions abound, all that the U.S. Olympic contingent can do is push on

Until torch is lit in just over 100 days, COVID worries will remain.
United States skip John Shuster, center, makes a shot as second Matt Hamilton, right, and lead John Landsteiner sweep against Denmark at the men’s W

Shuster rink qualifies U.S. for 2022 Olympics

The U.S. locked up a spot in men's curling at the 2022 Beijing Olympics on Thursday, when Team John Shuster earned a playoff berth at the world men's curling championships in Calgary.
The Gophers received the No. 3 seed — and a first-round bye — for the NCAA volleyball tournament Sunday.

Gophers land third seed and a bye in NCAA volleyball tournament

Wisconsin is No. 1, and six Big Ten teams are in the field. The 48-team tournament will be held entirely in Omaha, beginning with first-round matches April 14.
Minnesota’s Gable Steveson

Steveson dominates his way to spot on U.S. Olympic team at heavyweight

Gophers wrestler Gable Steveson won his finals matches 10-0 and 10-4 on Saturday night to qualify for this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Emily Shilson (top), a three-time national champion at Augsburg, went 1-1 in Saturday’s consolation bracket of the women’s freestyle 50 kg class a

Minnesotans stumble in Greco-Roman Olympic wrestling trials

No Minnesotans made the championship finals in Greco-Roman, marking the first time since 1964 that the state will not have a wrestler in that discipline on the U.S. Olympic team.
Gable Steveson, top, competes in a preliminary semifinal on Friday, April 2, 2021. Wrestlers compete at the 2021 US Olympic Team trials.

Steveson advances to finals of U.S. Olympic wrestling trials

The Gophers wrestler from Apple Valley will face two-time world championship bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski in a best-of-three on Saturday.
Emily Shilson, photographed in 2018.

Augsburg wrestler Shilson uses Olympic trials to measure herself against the best

Emily Shilson, 20, and Calvin Germinaro, a 22-year-old from Anoka missed out on Olympic berths, but can still finish third in their weight classes.
Gable Steveson and Tony Nelson are competing for the one heavyweight spot on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team.

Minnesota wrestling hopefuls ready for Olympic trials

Tony Nelson and Gable Steveson have practiced and pounded on each other for years. But there's only one heavyweight spot on the U.S. men's wrestling team.
Wild GM Bill Guerin, with owner Craig Leipold, will be the assistant GM for the 2022 U.S. men’s Olympic team.

USA Hockey moves have Minnesota flavor

Wild GM Bill Guerin will be the assistant GM of the U.S. men's Olympic team, while the women's team will be headquartered at the Super Rink in Blaine.
Minnesota’s Gable Steveson, top, wrestled Penn State’s Greg Kerkvliet during the quarterfinal round of the NCAA championships last month. Both Min

U.S. Olympic wrestling trials: Minnesotans to watch, and how to watch them

17 wrestlers with Minnesota connections are competing for berths in the Tokyo Games beginning Friday in Fort Worth, Texas
Boston Pride forward Jillian Dempsey celebrated after scoring a goal against Whitecaps goalie Amanda Leveille during the second period Saturday night.

Whitecaps fall to Boston 4-3 in Isobel Cup final

The Pride scored three second-period goals to deny Minnesota a repeat championship.
ANTHONY SOUFFLÉ • Star Tribune Whitecaps captain Winny Brodt Brown carried the Isobel Cup after the team’s 2019 championship.

Minnesota Whitecaps all set -- again -- for NWHL semifinals

Seven weeks after the National Women's Hockey League postponed its semifinals, the Whitecaps have a chance to defend their crown.
Hugh McCutcheon talked to his team before a match earlier this month.

No. 1 Wisconsin too much for shorthanded Gophers volleyball

The loss dropped the Gophers to 11-2, while the Badgers — who had not played in a month because of COVID postponements — remained undefeated
Gable Steveson celebrates after defeating Michigan’s Mason Parris during their NCAA wrestling title match in St. Louis.

Gophers' heavyweight Steveson dominates his way to NCAA title

Gable Steveson fulfilled his long-held goal of an NCAA championship by defeating Michigan's Mason Parris 8-4. Steveson's win streak is 34 matches.
JEFF WHEELER • Star Tribune The Gophers celebrated a point in their win against Penn State on Feb. 14.

U volleyball match vs. No. 1 Wisconsin postponed by COVID-19

Coach Hugh McCutcheon declined to say how many Gophers players were injured and how many were in the COVID protocol.
Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle promised there will be diversity on the search committee that will oversee the selection of a new basketball coac

Coyle promises 'very diverse pool' of U basketball coaching candidates

The Gophers have not had a Black coach since 2013, and its hiring practices are being closely watched.
Jessie Diggins spent the winter achieving superlatives: first American to win the Tour de Ski, first American woman to win the overall World Cup cross

Diggins calls World Cup overall title 'the biggest thing I could ever possibly achieve'

Afton native Jessie Diggins has a career-high eight podium finishes and three World Cup victories this season.
Katie Borowicz of the Gophers guarded Nebraska’s Annika Stewart, who played high school basketball at Wayzata, during Wednesday morning’s game.

Shorthanded U women lose 72-61 to Nebraska in Big Ten tournament

With starters Sara Scalia, Jasmine Powell and Kadi Sissoko all out with injuries, the Gophers were down to eight players.
Gophers guard Caroline Strande in action vs. Nebraska earlier this season, the opponent Minnesota will face Wednesday to open the Big Ten tournament.

Live: Confident U women play Nebraska. Get in-game updates here

The Gophers have beaten Nebraska, seeded one spot higher, twice already this season. Go here for updates on the first-round game in the Big Ten tournament.
Gophers distance runner Bethany Hasz will race in the 5,000 meters Friday night at the NCAA indoor track and field championships in Fayetteville, Ark.

Long-distance drive around: Gophers running star chases 2 titles in 2 states

Senior Bethany Hasz is preparing for two very different national championship races separated by 182 miles and about 64 hours starting Friday.
Gophers guard Sara Scalia, during a game earlier this season.

Gophers women's basketball loses regular-season finale at Illinois

An already shorthanded Gophers team was thinned even further when Kadi Sissoko was injured in the third quarter and did not return. Illinois went on a quick run, and did not look back in a 72-64 victory.
Regan Smith practiced at Bluewater Aquatic Center in Apple Valley, in 2019.

Regan Smith wins 100-meter butterfly in Pro Swim Series

The Lakeville native defeated 2016 Olympian Kelsi Dahlia in the 100 fly, winning in 57.88 seconds.
Gophers guard Jasmine Powell (4) is helped off the court on Feb. 20 at Maryland. She is not expected to play Friday at Illinois.

U women's basketball down to eight likely players for today's game

A win over Nebraska was promising for the Gophers women's basketball team, but COVID-19 disruptions since have hit the team hard.
Jessie Diggins, shown here at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships on Tuesday, finished in fourth place on Thursday with the Team USA 4x5-kilometer

Jessie Diggins places fourth for second time this week at world ski championships

Diggins and her Team USA teammates came up 8/10ths of a second short from medaling in the 4x5-kilometer relay.
MIAC football games will be held this spring.

MIAC football coming soon, along with full slate of spring sports

The conference announced plans for its teams to play up to four football games, beginning Friday, and to have a full spring sports schedule.
Suni Lee, who trains at Midwest Gymnastics in Little Canada, will compete on the uneven bars and balance bars at this weekend’s Winter Cup in Indian

Olympic gymnastic hopefuls Lee, Wiskus ready for Winter Cup

Minnesotans Suni Lee and Shane Wiskus will be among about 60 top American gymnasts competing this weekend in Indianapolis after months of practice behind closed doors.
The Gophers were scheduled to play host to Michigan on Friday and Saturday at Maturi Pavilion.

Gophers volleyball series vs. Michigan postponed because of COVID

This weekend's Gophers-Michigan volleyball series at Maturi Pavilion has been postponed because of COVID issues in the Michigan program.
Jessie Diggins (middle) celebrated a victory last month in the 10km FIS Cross Country World Cup competition in Falun, Sweden.

Jessie Diggins enjoying banner year heading into world championships

The Afton native will be among the favorites heading into multiple events at the Nordic world ski championships, which begin Wednesday in Germany.
Nebraska’s Madi Kubik ( top right) has a shot blocked by Minnesota’s Shea Rubright (bottom left) and Stephanie Samedy in the first set on Sunday 

Gophers' run of volleyball perfection ends in loss to Nebraska

Very little went right for the No. 5 Gophers (9-1), who lost in three sets to end a 12-match Big Ten road winning streak.
Minnesota's Taylor Landfair (12) attempts a kill against Nebraska's Lauren Stivrins (26) and Nicklin Hames (1) during the first set of a college volle

Gophers volleyball picks up big road win at Nebraska to remain unbeaten

Stephanie Samedy led the way with a match-high 23 kills, but the Gophers' outstanding block was instrumental, too.
At 6-foot-3, Gophers setter Melani Shaffmaster is unusually tall for her position, and she showcases a wide range of skills.

U volleyball prodigy Shaffmaster's first surprise was committing in 8th grade

Freshman Melani Shaffmaster felt at home from the moment she set foot on the Minnesota campus, and has quickly became an integral part of the lineup.
Ruth Sinn, returning for her 16th season as Tommies womenÕs basketball head coach, knelt alongside her St. Thomas team before that start of a game ag

Teams adapt as 'Star Spangled Banner' stirs emotions

Some schools, including St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota, are incorporating social justice messages into pregame presentations.
Stephanie Samedy cored off a kill in the second set against Penn State.

U volleyball stays undefeated with 3-1 win over Penn State

Stephanie Samedy stood out in Saturday's tightly contested match between the No. 5 Gophers and No. 8 Nittany Lions.
St. Thomas hosted Concordia in women’s basketball inside Schoenecker Arena. Ruth Sinn returned for her 16th season as Tommies women’s basketball h

St. Thomas athletes, coaches begin fond farewell to the MIAC

Connections and friendships among the state schools schools run deep as the Tommies start their final season in Division III.
The Whitecaps reached the NWHL semifinals for a third consecutive year before the playoffs were suspended Wednesday.

COVID concerns pause NWHL season; Whitecaps had reached semifinals

A league statement said there had been "new positive COVID-19 tests," prompting a suspension of the abbreviated 14-day season.
Colton Dee competed in the floor exercise Saturday night against Iowa.

'Still a terrible decision.' U men's gymnasts face up to beginning of the end

The eighth-ranked Gophers have only three months left in their time at the U, just six regular-season meets and one postseason before the program ends a 118-year run.
local, national leader ”I’m not afraid to speak up when students’ interests are on the table,” says Hamline President Fayneese Miller.

Hamline president doubles as leader for NCAA sports

Fayneese Miller leads a group of 445 schools while staying closely connected with athletics at the St. Paul university.
Stephanie Samedy smacked set point to take a 2-0 lead over Michigan State on Saturday afternoon. The Gophers won in a sweep.

Gophers volleyball returns with 3-0 sweep over Michigan State

Minnesota's 25-18, 26-24, 25-16 victory wasn't always smooth. But the Gophers got strong performances from several returners and solid debuts from a pair of freshmen.
Regan Pittman (21) is among the top returnees for the Gophers.

Gophers volleyball season is finally here after 401-day wait

Last seen at the 2019 Final Four in a loss to Stanford, the Gophers will open a new season on Saturday against Michigan State.
Lindsey Vonn will be part of NBC Sports’ World Cup skiing coverage on Saturday and Sunday.

Lindsey Vonn to make broadcast debut this weekend

The women's World Cup skiing record holder will serve as an analyst for the Olympic Channel and NBCSN.
Olympic wrestling hopeful Pat Smith, the wrestler from Chaska, did workouts outside the gym in April.

In COVID-19 era, former U wrestler juggles need for competition, compliance

Preparing for the U.S. Olympic trials has been complicated enough. Now Pat Smith must master testing and masking rules as he travels abroad to train and for tournaments.
Regan Smith, at home in Lakeville last fall.

Lakeville's Regan Smith keeping Olympic form in trying times for swimmers

Olympic trials are only six months away, and the race toward the Tokyo accelerates this weekend, when Smith will compete in a major meet in Texas.
Tom Palkowski’s St. Thomas women’s hockey team is entering its final MIACseason before moving to Division I this fall.

MIAC plans to begin winter sports competition Jan. 29

The conference announced there will be no MIAC tournaments but its teams will be allowed to compete in NCAA tourneys if invited.
A victory ride on U.S. teammates’ shoulders, top, elicited exultation for Afton’s Jessie Diggins; however, tears flowed as she took a moment alone

Surviving the 'pain cave,' Diggins wins 1st Tour de Ski title for United States

The Afton native captured the overall title with a second-place finish in Sunday's final stage. To grab the prize, though, she had to make certain her mind was as strong as her legs.
Forward Jonny Sorenson (shown against Ohio State in November) scored to break a 2-2 tie and help the Gophers beat Wisconsin 5-3 on Sunday.

Gophers get back to winning in men's hockey by beating Badgers

The victory over Wisconsin came a day after their perfect 10-0 start ended and a tough pregame film session.
Gophers coach Bob Motzko in 2018.

Perfect stretch ends for Gophers men's hockey team

Wisconsin handed the No. 1 Gophers their first loss after a 10-0 start.
Minnesota’s Gable Steveson talked with coach Brandon Eggum during a match last season vs. Wisconsin.

Gophers wrestlers face first test of season at No. 4 Nebraska

Five who qualified for 2020 NCAA meet return, including heavyweight Gable Steveson.
Alessandro Trovati • Associated Press Jessie Diggins finished third Wednesday in the 10-km fifth stage of the Tour de Ski in Dobbiaco, Italy, keepin

Jessie Diggins falls down, recovers, keeps lead in Tour de Ski

The Olympic gold medalist, from Afton, leads by 22 seconds with three stages remaining. She could become the first American to win the event.
A turkey roamed the exterior of TCF Bank Stadium hours before the Gophers’ Oct. 24 opener against Michigan.

TCF Bank Stadium's new name is lurking in these seven questions

Is it common for stadiums to get new names? When will the change happen? Here are answers to those questions and others.
Gophers fan D.J. Anderson of White Bear Lake enjoyed a beer from near the endzone in 2012.

Some U of M regents leery of permitting alcohol sponsorships, licensing

Several Regents questioned whether the revenue from those deals — estimated at about $300,000 per year — is high enough to merit changing a longstanding policy. U President Joan Gabel has recommended approval.
Olympics hopeful Shane Wiskus says on “60 Minutes” he is mad at Gophers for dropping his sport after 2020-21.

Gophers men's gymnastics star, coach express anger over sport being cut on '60 Minutes'

Gophers star Shane Wiskus and coach Mike Burns both are interviewed on the program.
An empty TCF Bank Stadium, in August

U Board of Regents to ponder alcohol sponsorships at school venues

The University of Minnesota's Board of Regents will consider allowing the school to sign licensing and sponsorship deals with alcoholic beverage manufacturers, which could introduce a new revenue source.
Gophers coach Brad Frost, talking to his players during a game against Ohio State on Nov. 21, kept telling his players to expect schedule changes this

U women vs. Badgers called off; series with Mankato added

This weekend's Gophers-Badgers series has been called off and Minnesota has added a home-and-home series next week against Minnesota State.
The University of Minnesota Gopher’s Taylor Heise (9) comforts goalie Lauren Bench (35) after Ohio State’s 2-1 win over the Gophers in Minneapolis

Graduate transfer Bench fulfilling childhood dream as Gophers goalie

Former Bemidji State netminder Lauren Bench is playing exceptionally well for the No. 3-rated Gophers women's hockey team.
Minnesota and Ohio State played on Nov. 21 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.

Gophers-Ohio State women's hockey series postponed

The Gophers' women's hockey team will not play at Ohio State on Dec. 11-12 because the Buckeyes will not have enough players, according to the WCHA.
Regan Smith reacted after winning the 200-meter backstroke at the 2019 world championships in South Korea.

Regan Smith, Lakeville's world-record holder, returns to water in Iowa

With her training schedule back to normal, the U.S. Open will give Smith a chance to check her progress and get back into racing mode.
The elimination of the Gophers’ program means All-America gymnast Shane Wiskus will resume his Olympic preparations in Colorado.

Gophers gymnast Wiskus leaving state, moving to Colorado Springs to train

With no assurance he could keep training at on-campus Cooke Hall next spring, and no teammates to work out with, Shane Wiskus has faced a sudden, sorrowful choice.
Jockey Ry Eikleberry rode Frank the Mayor to a win on the final day of the 2020 racing season. The final day of the live horse racing season at Canter

Canterbury Park proposes 65-day meet for 2021, return of Sunday races

The schedule, which must be approved by the Minnesota Racing Commission, reintroduces Sunday afternoon racing after a one-year hiatus.
St. Olaf’s men’s hockey team is among those that won’t compete this season because of the pandemic.

St. Olaf joins Carleton in canceling winter sports due to pandemic

The MIAC still plans to have competition.
The University of St. Thomas will become a provisional member of Division I next July.

Big-time moves: St. Thomas signs first D-I athletes, expanding staff

The step from Division III has already brought new hirings, new fundraising efforts and newly endowed scholarships to St. Thomas.
Bodenheimer is the offspring of another Breeders' Cup horse, Atta Boy Roy. He's shown running at Canterbury on July 29 with jockey Francisco Arrieta.

Bodenheimer gives Canterbury trainer another try at Breeders' Cup

Valorie Lund likes to take a patient approach with her young racehorses, allowing them to develop at their own pace. With Bodenheimer, she didn't have to wait.
Gophers All-America gymnast Shane Wiskus

Gophers gymnast Wiskus heads to Japan for Olympic test event

The Friendship and Solidarity Competition will be Japan's first international sporting event of the pandemic, with the Olympics slated for Tokyo next summer.
St. Thomas celebrated the 2017 MIAC women’s basketball championship win over Gustavus.

NCAA gives all Division III athletes extra year of eligibility

The MIAC, which has postponed all competitions until Jan. 1, is expected to announce more details soon about its winter sports schedule.
Carleton had previously canceled football and other fall sports.

Carleton becomes first MIAC school to cancel winter sports

In a news release, Carleton officials said restricting off-campus travel and outside visitors has helped limit COVID-19's "direct impact'' on campus this fall.
Olympic hopeful Regan Smith is not learning or swimming competitively at Stanford. Instead, she’s taking online classes and training close to home.

World champion Lakeville swimmer changes plans for education, Olympics

To train for next year's Olympics, Regan Smith spent the summer doing early-morning workouts in an outdoor community pool, and she's put off attending Stanford to better prepare for Tokyo.
Gophers volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon said not competing this fall has been “different, and a little surreal.”

McCutcheon says U will likely play 22-match Big Ten volleyball schedule

Gophers coach is all right with the long wait until January to play: "The whole year is a little off."
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents met at McNamara Alumni Center and by videoconference Friday.

Regents save outdoor track but cut three sports that will leave 'a scar for the rest of eternity'

The Gophers men's gymnastics, men's tennis and men's indoor track and field programs were dropped, but an amended resolution spared outdoor track and field.
U student athletes protest sports programs being cut

Angry donors say 'we'll be canceling everything' if Gophers sports are cut

The Board of Regents is scheduled to vote Friday on a resolution to eliminate three men's sports. If it passes, some donors plan to stop donating and buying season tickets for football and other sports.
Gophers athletes staged a sit-in to protest sports programs being cut outside the McNamara Alumni Center on Wednesday.

Foreshadowing? Some U coaches had program elimination clause in new contracts

While the University of Minnesota's plan to cut three sports caught many by surprise, the school started putting the language into some contracts last year. 'Our intent is to continue this practice,' AD Mark Coyle said.