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
Horses take off in the fourth race during opening night at Canterbury Park on Wednesday

Canterbury Park opens 28th season to summery success

Two stakes races welcomed back fans to the track in Shakopee, so many that more programs had to be printed. A total of $139,300 was wagered on track.
An exercise rider worked out a horse at Canterbury Park to prepare for Wednesday’s opener.

Canterbury Park opens season Wednesday with two stakes races

Among the changes this season will be the return of Saturday racing, with first post at 5 p.m.
The Gophers’ Yaroslav Owens-Pochinka (shown practicing at Cooke Hall in April) won the GymACT national title on still rings with a score of 13.800 o

Gophers club gymnastics team finishes fourth at nationals

Yaroslav Owens-Pochinka won the GymACT national title on still rings, while Kellen Ryan was sixth in the all-around. Both earned All-America honors.
Coach Mike Burns is still angry the U cut his 118-year-old program but has redirected his energy. He said, “I’ve always preached to my guys, ‘Id

One year after the Gophers cut men's gymnastics, 'We're not going away'

Longtime coach Mike Burns now runs the program as a club, and it's heading into a new national meet Saturday.
Zandon placed third in the Kentucky Derby, but will skip the remaining two legs of the Triple Crown races to point toward the Travers Stakes in August

Minnesota horse Zandon won't race in the Preakness or Belmont

Zandon's owner, Jeff Drown of St. Cloud, has the horse pointed toward the Travers Stakes. Derby winner Rich Strike won't race in the Preakness, either.
Joni and Barry Butzow watched their horse Zozos moments before the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Minnesota to Churchill Downs: A horse owner's Derby dream trip

Barry and Joni Butzow of Eden Prairie had made the annual pilgrimage to Kentucky Derby for 20 years. But this time was different: They finally had a horse in the race. This is the up-close story of their Derby Week
Sonny Leon celebrates after riding Rich Strike past the finish line to win the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday

Long shot Rich Strike, at 81-1, wins Kentucky Derby; Zandon places third

The 148th running of the Kentucky Derby went off Saturday on a cool day at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Rich Strike, an 81-1 long shot who was an alternate until Friday morning, pulled off a monumental upset over the field of 20.
Rich Strike (21), with Sonny Leon aboard, leads Epicenter (3), with Joel Rosario aboard, and Zandon (10), with Flavien Prat aboard in the running of t

Prat, aboard Zandon, surprised as anyone to be overtaken in Kentucky Derby

Four undercard wins may have stoked his confidence with third-place colt Zandon, but no one saw Rich Strike's closing kick coming.
Jill Drown, works to get a selfie with Zandon  at barn  at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2022. Photo by Mark Cornelison
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This Kentucky Derby sets up as a Minnesota spectacle with Zandon and Zozos

Race day could be emotional for St. Cloud's Jeff Drown, owner of Zandon, and Eden Prairie's Joni and Barry Butzow, owner of Zozos.
Churchill Downs held the 147th Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2021 in Louisville.

Kentucky Derby: TV, facts about the race, Minnesota connections and more

Kentucky Derby week is here, and two Minnesota-owned horses will be in the running. Here's a primer on everything you need to know.
Though Bob Baffert has won six Kentucky Derbies and two Triple Crowns, a series of positive drug tests in his horses have stained the reputation of th

From Kentucky to Canterbury Park, horse racing faces its reckoning

A new federal law will take go into effect in July with the goal of reducing cheating, such as the episode during last year's Kentucky Derby involving a horse who died after a workout months later.
American Pharoah awoke from a nap to greet visitors from Minnesota earlier this week at Coolmore America.

American Pharoah wakes up, meets Minnesotans on Derby barn tour

Friends of Barry and Joni Butzow of Eden Prairie, whose colt Zozos will run in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, have spent time visiting horse farms in the Lexington area.
Race horse owner Pete Mattson (shown at Canterbury Park in 2017) has a friendly or financial interest in two Minnesota-owned horses at the Kentucky De

Minnesota gets a third horse in the mix for Saturday's Kentucky Derby

Pete Mattson, a thoroughbred owner and breeder from Prior Lake, now owns a small share of Mo Donegal — a deal made through a connection from his college years in St. Paul.
Zandon worked out Monday morning at Churchill Downs.

Minnesota-owned Zandon gets respect, set as early Derby favorite

Zandon's post position, No. 10, has sent off nine winners — second most in the race's history. His owners, who are from St. Cloud, were thrilled with the draw.
Zandon (left) and Zozos are owned by Minnesotans and scheduled to run in the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby has Minnesota twist this year: 2 horses with state ties

Looking for a local angle to boost your interest in this year's race? Look to the end of the alphabet. Zandon and Zozos have Minnesota connections and are being taken seriously by race fans.
Minnesota State Mankato goalie Dryden McKay

Hobey Baker-winning goalie McKay gets six-month doping suspension

Dryden McKay led Minnesota State to a second-place finish in the NCAA men's hockey tournament earlier this month, including a semifinal victory over the Gophers.
Auburn’s Suni Lee competes in the floor exercise during the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas.

Oklahoma wins NCAA women's gymnastics championship; Lee helps Auburn to 4th

Though Saturday's team final featured two medalists from the Tokyo Summer Games — Auburn's Suni Lee of St. Paul and Utah's Grace McCallum, of Isanti — the meet was decided by upperclassmen well-schooled in NCAA level demands.
Auburn’s Suni Lee competes on the balance beam during the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas.

Suni Lee wins beam in NCAA meet, Gophers' Ramler second on bars

Led by the Olympic gold medalist from St. Paul, Lee's Auburn team advanced to the finals; the Gophers did not but had the best finish in team history.
Assistant athletic trainer Anna Peterson helped Suni Lee remove an Olympic ring necklace at the beginning of an Auburn Tigers workout Friday, Dec. 17,

Suni Lee leads high-end Minnesota group to NCAA gymnastics meet

To get to the NCAA championships, Minnesotans just need to drive south on I-35 to Texas. Not everyone is taking such a direct route to the meet, which starts today.
Taiba and jockey Mike Smith won the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on Saturday in Arcadia, Calif.

Two Minnesota-owned horses could be ticketed for Kentucky Derby

Jeff Drown-owned Zandon won the Blue Grass Stakes, one of three major Derby prep races held on Saturday.
WrestleMania 38 was held over the weekend in Arlington, Texas.

Gable Steveson makes WWE debut at WrestleMania 38

The two-time NCAA heavyweight champion with the Gophers began his professional entertainment career.
Destanni Henderson of South Carolina attempts a shot during Sunday’s championship game at Target Center.

South Carolina's Henderson steals the show in NCAA title game

Destanni Henderson, South Carolina's 5-7 point guard, stepped up to the biggest stage in college basketball and made her last NCAA game the best of her career.
Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi on their Target Center set.

Sights and sounds: Bird and Taurasi are must-see Final Four TV

The former UConn stars have their own show from Target Center during the that has the feel of watching from a friend's house.
South Carolina guard Destanni Henderson drives against Louisville forward Olivia Cochran during Friday’s semifinal game at Target Center

South Carolina strides into NCAA title game after topping Louisville

Aliyah Boston and a balanced attack put the Gamecocks in Sunday's championship game in Minneapolis.
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley called the NCAA transfer portal “a big old fad,’’ and deemed it “way out of hand.”

Final Four report: Coaches say transfer portal may not be all that it seems

The NCAA transfer portal became a hot subject Thursday in Minnesota and several of the Final Four coaches weighed in with their thoughts.
The Target Center will be home to the women’s Final Four next weekend.

Women's Final Four offers plenty of activities for fans in Twin Cities

And many of the events are free leading up to Sunday's championship game at Target Center.
UConn guard Paige Bueckers

Paige Bueckers speeds past injury timeline in UConn's OT thriller

Women's Final Four notes: Geno Auriemma said, two weeks ago, he wouldn't have believed it. Louisville coach has Minnesota ties.
South Dakota guard Liv Korngable (2) used a screen from teammate and fellow Minnesota native Hannah Sjerven (34) against Baylor.

Minnesotans making big impacts so far in NCAA women's tournament

There were Minnesota players who led the way to upsets, kept tournament favorites on course or saw their championship bids end earlier than expected during the first two rounds of play.
Minnesota’s Gable Steveson celebrates with a backflip after defeating Arizona State ‘s Cohlton Schultz during their heavyweight match in the final

Gophers heavyweight Steveson repeats as NCAA champion

Wrestling his last college match on Saturday night, Gable Steveson completed his undefeated season. He brought the crowd to its feet with his signature backflip, then left his shoes on the mat.
Gophers athletes, clockwise from top left, Lexy Ramler, Sarah Bacon, Max McHugh and Bethany Hasz have rewritten record books at the U.

Four other Gophers athletes, besides Gable Steveson, who keep conquering the competition

Gymnast Lexy Ramler, diver Sarah Bacon, swimmer Max McHugh and distance runner Bethany Hasz have each had extraordinary Gophers careers.
Mike Schultz teamed up with Protolabs to create a racing prosthetic.

Meet the Minnesotans who competed in the 2022 Beijing Paralympics

The five Minnesotans in Beijing won four medals, including three for cross-country skier Sydney Peterson of Lake Elmo.
Sammy Walker was greeted by teammate Blake McLaughlin after Walker’s late third-period goal catapulted the Gophers over Penn State 3-2 and into the

Walker's third-period goal lifts U into Big Ten men's hockey final

Sammy Walker's tally at 17 minutes, 21 seconds of the third gave the Gophers a 3-2 victory over Penn State, their ninth consecutive win and their fourth appearance in the Big Ten title game.
Afton’s Jessie Diggins (shown during the Beijing Olympics), after winning a bronze medal Saturday, finished second in the women’s World Cup overal

Diggins gets bronze medal in final World Cup race of the season

Jessie Diggins, the cross-country skier from Afton, finished second in the women's overall standings, 180 points behind overall champion Natalia Nepryaeva of Russia.
Gold medalist Natalie Wilkie, of Canada, center, poses with silver medalist Vilde Nilsen, of Norway, left, and bronze medalist Sydney Peterson, of Lak

Lake Elmo's Peterson follows up silver with Paralympics bronze

Another Minnesotan helped wheelchair curling team remain in contention at Paralympics
Wu Zhongwei of China (red) Mike Schultz of the U.S.A. (green) and Junta Kosuda of Japan (yellow) compete in Paralympics snocross semifinals.

Minnesotans Schultz and Peterson win silver medals at Paralympics

Snowboarder Mike Schultz of St. Cloud and cross-country skier Sydney Peterson of Lake Elmo became the first Minnesotans to win medals at the Beijing Paralympics.
Mike Schultz with his wife, Sara, and their daughter, Lauren at Powder Ridge in Kimball, Minnesota.

A page turner: St. Cloud snowboard racer Schultz keeps competitive fire

Preparation is no deterrent for the defending Paralympic champion. He has the best tools of the trade, some of which he designed and are used by other athletes.
Oyuna Uranchimeg of Burnsville will compete in wheelchair curling at the Beijing Paralympics.

Burnsville woman proud to represent country where she was 'reborn' in Paralympics

Oyuna Uranchimeg thought her life was over in 2000, when she was in a car accident while visiting Minnesota. "I basically died that day. And then, I came back."
Jessie Diggins was comforted after crossing the finish during the women’s 30km mass start free cross-country skiing competition at the 2022 Winter O

Rested Diggins returning to competition, less than a week after Olympics

Afton's Jessie Diggins, who capped the Beijing Games with a silver medal, says she is recharged and ready for the World Cup circuit. First up: Finland.
Fireworks lit up the sky over Olympic Stadium during the Closing Ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics on Sunday in Beijing.

Olympics contrasted success, safety, shortcomings, controversy

As the athletes took part in the Closing Ceremony, they were just grateful the Winter Games made it over the finish line.
Jessie Diggins falls to the snow after crossing the finish line during the women's 30km mass start free cross-country skiing competition at the 2022 W

Conquering illness, Diggins ends her Olympics with historic silver medal

On the final day of the Olympics, Jessie Diggins of Afton seized her last shot to make more history, despite being sick with food poisoning just hours before the race in the mountains outside Beijing.
How'd they do? Meet the 30 U.S. Olympians with Minnesota ties

How'd they do? Meet the 30 U.S. Olympians with Minnesota ties

The contingent with Minnesota connections on Team USA was the largest since Turin in 2006 and included nine gold medalists from four years ago.
A Team United States supporter cheers during the men’s curling bronze medal match between Canada and the United States at the Beijing Winter Olympic

How Team USA made Beijing Olympics as fun as possible

Athletes cheering for athletes will be one of the joyful memories from an Olympics otherwise tied down tightly by COVID-19 restrictions.
Giorgia Birkeland of White Bear Lake reacted during the women’s speedskating mass start semifinals at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

White Bear Lake speedskater Giorgia Birkeland reaches Olympic finals

The 19-year-old finished 12th in her first mass start race at the senior international level.
John Shuster says he’d like to return to the Olympics for a sixth time in 2026.

After loss to Canada for bronze, Shuster already has eye on 2026 Games

John Shuster, 39, won't be bringing home a medal from the Olympics this time. But he still has the fire for curling and is looking at a sixth Olympic appearance at the 2026 games in Italy.
The United States team watches as Canada players celebrate after winning the women's gold medal hockey game at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb

Loss to Canada brings stinging end to Olympics for Team USA women

Four years after they experienced the unabashed joy of dethroning Canada as Olympic champions, the Americans stood glumly on the ice in Beijing to accept silver medals.
United States' John Shuster watches the rock during a men's curling semifinal match between Britain and the United States at the 2022 Winter Olympics,

Strategy backfires on Shuster, ending chance for another golden curl

Curling is often called chess on ice. It was more like a math problem for USA curling skipper John Shuster and his teammates in their Olympic semifinal loss to Great Britain.
Jessie Diggins finished fifth in the women’s team sprint classic cross-country skiing competition .

Despite medal expectations, Diggins happy with fifth place in sprint relay

Four years after the crowning moment of her cross-country skiing career, Jessie Diggins of Afton said knowing she did her best in the classic team sprint relay was good enough.
Jake Brown of St. Paul was the top American finisher in three biathlon events at the Beijing Olympics.

For St. Paul biathlete, Olympics are long way from Mora Vasaloppet

Former St. Olaf runner and skier Jake Brown, who went to Minnehaha Academy, posted the best individual results of the four-man U.S. team at the Beijing Olympics.
Sweden goalie Emma Soderberg is one of 12 Minnesota Duluth players in the Olympics, spanning eight countries.

It's USA-Canada again, but college players fuel global growth of women's hockey

More than 100 former college players made rosters for these Olympics, including 48 from the WCHA, half of whom are playing for China and teams from Europe.
Jessie Diggins grinned after an eighth-place finish in the 10km as she moved toward Wednesday’s team sprint, in which she won a gold medal four year

Diggins heads to her gold medal event with fresh changes, challenges

Jessie Diggins' teammate in the team sprint event is expected to be Rosie Brennan, not Kikkan Randall, and the skiing technique is classic, not her preferred freestyle.
Paul Schommer was once a wrestler, but found a new calling at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth and eventually made the U.S. Olympic team in bi

Schommer gets off the mat, develops into an Olympian in biathlon

Former wrestler Paul Schommer answers his calling to the Nordic sport at St. Scholastica under coach Chad Salmela.
Jon Soto Moreno, Mexico’s one-man racing team, made his home city of Richfield proud by racing Friday in Zhangjiakou, China.

From Mexico to Richfield to China, Soto Moreno went around the world on two skis

Jonathan Soto Moreno arrived at Richfield High School not knowing a thing about cross-country skiing. Friday, he arrived at the finish line of an Olympics race.
Tabitha Peterson, left, and Tara Peterson of the U.S. women’s curling team.

Team Peterson goes quiet on the curling ice and on the scoreboard

A 10-5 loss to Great Britain dropped the U.S. women's curling team to 3-1 in round-round play.
United States players celebrate after a goal by Kenny Agostino in a 4-2 win over Canada at the Olympics on Saturday.

U.S. men's hockey does not have long to savor win over Canada

The young American team faces Germany on Sunday with a chance to win Group A and earn a bye and high seeding in the quarterfinals.
United States’ Kenny Agostino celebrates after scoring a goal against Canada during a preliminary round men’s hockey game at the 2022 Winter Olymp

Team USA men's hockey turns away Canada 4-2 in Olympics pool play

Ben Meyers of the Gophers scored USA's second goal, helping the team to a second win at the Winter Olympics.
United States' Jessie Diggins competes during the women's 10km classic cross-country skiing competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 10

In her weakest event, Diggins finds joy finishing 8th in 10-kilometer race

Though she wasn't among the favorites, Jessie Diggins of Afton proved she's in razor-sharp form at the halfway point of her schedule. She called it her 'day to go out there and enjoy racing at the Olympics.'
Gold-medal performers: The Olympic robots of Beijing

Gold-medal performers: The Olympic robots of Beijing

They're doing everything from sweeping floors to delivering food to shaking cocktails to reduce human contact because of COVID. Olympic writer Rachel Blount writes — and has photos and video of them on the job.
Tabitha Peterson, Becca Hamilton, Tara Peterson and Nina Roth celebrated after a victory at the U.S. Curling Trials in Omaha in November.

Olympics 'the kind of thing you dream about' for Eagan's Peterson sisters

The Peterson rink, representing the U.S. in women's curling in Beijing, opened with a 9-3 victory over Russia, and the journey has only brought them closer together.
Matt Hamilton pumped his fist during the United States men’s curling match against the Russian Olympic Committee on Wednesday.

John Shuster rink tops Russian curlers to open gold medal defense

The U.S. champions needed an extra end in their debut at the Beijing Games.
John Shuster directed his teammates after throwing a rock during the United State men’s curling opener against the Russian Olympic Committee at the

How to watch Olympic curling (and actually know what's going on)

We'll help you talk smart to your friends as the U.S. men's and women's teams look to medal.
Bronze medallist Jessie Diggins of Afton, Minn., celebrates on the podium during the Women’s Cross-Country Sprint Free Final medal ceremony.

Diggins makes more U.S. Olympic history by skiing to freestyle sprint bronze

Jessie Diggins has a habit of making history, and Tuesday's bronze medal just added to the Afton native's list of breakthrough performances.
Astrid Lynae Nordgren was born Sunday night in Vermont. At right are Leif, who is from Marine on St. Croix, and Caitlin Nordgren.

Joy across the globe: It's a girl for Olympic biathlete Leif Nordgren

While Minnesota biathlete Leif Nordgren is in China to compete in the Beijing Olympics, his wife, Caitlin, gave birth to the couple's first child in Vermont.
Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys during their match Sunday against Switzerland.

More disappointment for Duluth curler Plys in mixed-doubles result

Chris Plys has dealt with letdowns before. In fact, before he joined John Shuster's 2018 gold-medal team, they were a fairly frequent occurrence.
It took four buses and a train for writer Rachel Blount to get from her hotel in Beijing to the cross-country skiing venue in Zhangjiakou.

Olympic diary: planes, trains and many, many buses

Getting to Beijing was tough enough. Getting around once we arrived hasn't been any easier. Going to watch Jessie Diggins ski was quite a trip.
Jessie Diggins competes during the FIS World Cup in Dresden, Germany on Dec. 18, 2021.

Why the Olympic sprint course Jessie Diggins will face is such a challenge

On a course few cross-country skiers have ever seen, Jessie Diggins of Afton has her work cut out for her as she tries to bring home more gold for the United States.
Chinese President Xi Jinping waved on the screen as dancers performed during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics. 

U.S. Olympian dilemma: Protest China rights abuses or play?

American athletes have been warned, and they certainly will be watched. Many have been put in an uncomfortable position.
Russian athlete Natalia Nepryaeva (1) races beside United States’ Jessie Diggins (6) and Norway’s Therese Johaug (3) during the women’s 7.5km +

Diggins finishes sixth in skiathlon, first race of loaded Beijing Games

Jessie Diggins rallied during the final kilometers of the women's skiathlon but came up short of the medal stand. She has potentially five more races in the coming days.
Jessie Diggins of Afton after finishing fifth in the 15km skiathlon at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Diggins goes for first medal: What you should know about skiathlon

Jessie Diggins of Afton finished fifth in the 15-kilometer skiathlon four years ago. Can she make it to the medal stand? And what exactly is skiathlon?
Torchbearers Dinigeer Yilamujiang, left, and Jiawen Zhao of China lit the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony.

China turns up volume in own defense in an otherwise quiet Opening Ceremony

The Olympic cauldron was lit by an athlete of Uyghur Muslim heritage, a group the country is accused of oppressing. Vladimir Putin was there; U.S. officials were not.
A member of Team Denmark went through security after arriving in Beijing this week.

Inside the 'closed loop' of Beijing Games: solitude, gratitude and ... bagpipes?

This is no Olympics party. Beijing is enforcing rules set to keep COVID-19 away from the Winter Olympics, making for a hermetically sealed experience.
Jessie Diggins, John Shuster and 7 other Minnesotans going back for more gold

Jessie Diggins, John Shuster and 7 other Minnesotans going back for more gold

Curlers John Shuster and John Landsteiner, skier Jessie Diggins and six women's hockey players aim to return from the Beijing Olympics with a 2022 medal to match 2018's.
A photo of the sample collection site at the Crowne Plaza Beijing Sun Palace hotel.

Olympic Diary: Welcome to three weeks of the daily throat swab

Every 24 hours, anyone inside the Olympic bubble in Beijing is tested for COVID-19. Try to skip it, and the high-tech scarlet letter will find you.
John Shuster will be the third person from Minnesota to carry the U.S. flag in an Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

Minnesota's Shuster named to carry U.S. flag in Opening Ceremony

Curling skip John Shuster will bring the flag into the Beijing stadium four years after Jessie Diggins — an Afton native who won 2018 Olympic gold in cross-country skiing — carried it in the Closing Ceremony in South Korea.
Chris Plys of Duluth watches their stone as teammate Victoria Persinger sweeps during their mixed doubles curling match against Australia.

Duluth's Plys opens mixed curling with comeback win over Australia

In the first event of the Beijing Olympics, Chris Plys and Alaskan Vicky Persinger delivered a victory to kick off the round-robin portion of the tournament.
An autonomous internet zone at the Crowne Plaza Beijing Sun Palace.

Olympic Diary: In Beijing, internet access (or censorship) is variable

In her first diary post from the Winter Games, Rachel Blount writes that reporters can find unrestricted internet access, but the realities of censorship are just as easy to see.