Staff Directory 6370599

David La Vaque

Reporter | High school sports
Phone: 612-673-7574

David La Vaque is a high school sports reporter for the Star Tribune. 

La Vaque previously spent 18 months covering high school sports at the Woodbury Bulletin. La Vaque has written frequently about Minnesota State High School League news, football, hockey, lacrosse and track and field. A native of St. Paul, La Vaque lives in Woodbury. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Communication Studies, Rhetoric and Applied Business. La Vaque is researching a book on the history of the Minnesota state high school hockey tournament. In his free time, he enjoys running and biking and listening to music.
Recent content from David La Vaque
Mike Randolph, center, has resigned as coach of the Duluth East boys’ hockey team after 32 seasons.

Duluth East hockey coach Mike Randolph resigns amid investigation

Randolph, who coached the boys' hockey team for 32 years, has been the target of complaints in the past.
Though it did not budget for state tournaments in 2020-21, the Minnesota State High School League ended up hosting them for winter sports such as Alpi

Minnesota high schools expected to shoulder sports league's budget again

The big fee increases imposed last fall by the budget-strapped Minnesota State High School League are likely to be considered for the upcoming school year as well.
Dakota United coach Brett Kosidowski, center, talked to his adapted softball team during a recent game on Senior Night. Softball conducted a smaller-s

Minnesota high school adapted sports find their way back in stages

The spring season for softball, which ends Saturday, included a smaller-scale regular season, a victorious step toward normalcy for athletes who experienced curtailed fall and winter sports.
Edina senior midfielder Haley Reeck, the Hornets’ career scoring leader, tallied five goals against Prior Lake in the season opener.

Q&A: Haley Reeck, Edina's career scoring leader in girls' lacrosse

Reeck set the mark in the fourth game of the season and entered this week with 165 goals. Her roots in the sport run deep.
The “Go Girl Flag Football League” logo

Girls' flag football league set to launch this summer in Twin Cities

The Go Girl Flag Football League allows young women in grades 6-8 and 9-12 throughout the metro area to develop their skills and grow interest in the sport.
Prior Lake’s Cooper Busch (2) works his way out of traffic in the first quarter. Busch was one of eight Lakers to score in a 9-6 win over Prior Lake

Relief mixes with vigilance as state eases mask rules for outdoor sports

While concerns remain, Minnesota high school officials expressed support for no longer requiring that masks be worn during competition or practice outdoors
Nordic skiers competing at the high school state meet were allowed to compete without wearing masks. The Minnesota State High School League is seeking

High school league asks that athletes not have to wear masks during games

The league asked state health officials to not require spring sports athletes to wear masks while competing. Plus new section assignments, spring tournament dates and updates about girls' wrestling and boys' volleyball.
Sophomore center Ella Boerger scored twice in the first period as the Huskies moved to the semifinals with a 4-0 victory.

Defending 2A champ Andover stakes a lead, powers past Farmington

Sophomore center Ella Boerger scored twice in the first period as the Huskies moved to the semifinals with a 4-0 victory.
Minnetonka coach Tracy Cassano, behind the bench during a game in December 2019.

Husband's math error doesn't wave off hockey mark for 'Tonka coach

Believed to be the first Minnesota female hockey coach with 200 victories, Tracy Cassano reached the mark two games sooner than her husband (also an assistant coach) thought she had.
The Hill-Murray girls’ hockey team, ranked No. 3 in Class 2A, has shut down its program until March 8 after three players tested positive for COVID-

Hill-Murray pauses girls' hockey, others affected after 3 with COVID symptoms kept playing

The three players, who later tested positive for the virus, showed ''complete disregard'' for school policy, a letter to hockey families said.
The wrestling state tournament, typically held at Xcel Energy Center, will take place at St. Michael-Albertville on March 25-27.

Minnesota wrestling state meet moves to St. Michael-Albertville

The Minnesota State High School League also plans to hold a two-day Nordic skiing state meet instead of combining boys' and girls' races on one day.
Cretin-Derham Hall players warmed up before a 2019 game against Prior Lake in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs. The Raiders will move to Class

Cretin-Derham Hall football moves to Class 5A next fall

The St. Paul private school had long competed with the state's largest programs, including since Class 6A was created in 2012.
Podcast: Too early to talk about state hockey tournament matchups? Nah.

Podcast: Too early to talk about state hockey tournament matchups? Nah.

David La Vaque and Jim Paulsen offer up the best boys' and girls' teams in the hunt and discuss a surprise player from the nationally televised boys' basketball game between Minnehaha Academy and Stewartville.
New London-Spicer forward Emma Hanson (21) hit a basket in a quarterfinal game last March at Maturi Pavilion. This year’s quarterfinals will be play

April madness: MSHSL state tournaments are back - if it's safe

Winter sports tournaments will resume March 10 and conclude with hockey and basketball championship games played in April. Expect changes in all of them.
Ashby High School senior Deklin Goeden is at the center of a court case over athletic eligibility due to discrimination by reason of a learning disabi

MSHSL challenges ruling in eligibility case over learning disability

The family of Ashby senior Deklin Goeden had sought to restore his eligibility to play sports after he repeated seventh grade.
Talking Preps podcast: In a pandemic, 'it's not just about the wins and losses'

Talking Preps podcast: In a pandemic, 'it's not just about the wins and losses'

As Minnesota high school winter sports return there is an important new meaning being brought to the court, rink and mats that doesn't show up in the box scores.

Podcast: Hopkins girls' basketball looks even better than last year, if that's possible

The Star Tribune's Jim Paulsen and David La Vaque wondering if the Royals, with a 64-game winning streak, will lose a game this year.
Fewer fans than usual could be seen in the stands for the opening tipoff between Hopkins and Stillwater on March 12, 2020, one of the last games playe

New-look prep state tournaments envisioned for hockey, basketball

A plan discussed by Minnesota State High School League leaders would hold hockey title games on April 3 and basketball finals the following weekend.
Chet Holmgren of Minnehaha Academy dunked during a drill at practice Tuesday at the school in Minneapolis. Masks are required during practice and game

Minnesota legislators, parents decry mask order as youth sports restart

During an MSHSL meeting with school officials, executive director Erich Martens said the high school league "did not ask for masks to be worn during competition time periods."
Avery Cheeseman of Minneapolis Washburn kept her mind and body active with her sport stuck on pause.

Artistic talents fill downtime for Minneapolis girls' hockey player

When she wasn't involved in hockey training, Avery Cheeseman made earrings, wrote short stories and dabbled in poetry.
Deklin Goeden (photo courtesy Goeden family)

Ashby senior sues MSHSL and wins, regaining eligibility

Deklin Goeden repeated seventh grade for academic reasons and was out of eligibility as a senior before taking legal action.
MSHSL will require face coverings in basketball, hockey

MSHSL will require face coverings in basketball, hockey

The league's winter sports guidelines published Wednesday include flexibility for wrestling.
Dawn Gillman, who’s become the face of the Let Them Play MN, stood for a portrait with her sons Eli, 17, left, and Monte, 15, both three-sport athle

'It's been intense': Football mom champions movement for Minnesota kids to play sports

Dawn Gillman has advocated for permitting games even while wrestling with the issues.
Hermantown defenseman Jackson Lucia (4) blocked a shot by Mahtomedi’s Max Pieper (12) in the Class 1A boys’ hockey state championship game last Ma

Masks coming for state high school sports; games begin Jan. 14

The latest Minnesota Department of Health guidelines require masks for some sports when practices begin Jan. 4.
Complaint from smaller metro schools prompts meeting with MSHSL

Complaint from smaller metro schools prompts meeting with MSHSL

A metro-area region representing 67 schools, hinting that members would resist paying big increases in fees sought by the league, will meet Friday with MSHSL executives.
The Minneapolis high school hockey team practiced lin January. Teams will be able to resume practice on Jan. 4, but no date has been set for a return

High school, youth teams can practice Jan. 4, no date set for games

Winter sports for high school and youth teams can hold practice on Jan. 4 with the hope, but no assurance yet, of playing games again by the middle of January.
Deklin Goeden (photo courtesy Goeden family)

Prep athlete going to court to regain eligibility in dispute over learning disability

Deklin Goeden of Ashby repeated seventh grade for academic reasons, a move that cost him two semesters of high school sports eligibility.
Ethan Vargas, the Star Tribune Metro Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year.

'Perfect leader' Ethan Vargas is Star Tribune Metro Boys' Cross-Country Runner of the Year

Vargas won all six of Stillwater's meets, defeating highly ranked runners in five of them, and won a year-end meet of top runners from across the state.
Analee Weaver of Stillwater is the Star Tribune Metro Girls’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year.

Analee Weaver's new push leads to Star Tribune Metro Girls' Cross-Country Runner of the Year

The Stillwater senior set a new state record for girls in a 5K high school race and won a showcase of top runners at the end of the season.
Fewer fans than usual could be seen in the stands at Williams Arena on March 12 when Hopkins and Stillwater played in what turned out to be one of the

Target dates for return of prep sports address uncertainty of managing virus

The plan puts a priority on games over season length, though there would be as many as 30% fewer games than in a normal season.
Fewer fans than usual were in the stands at Williams Arena for the opening tipoff on March 12 between Hopkins and Stillwater, one of the last state to

MSHSL proposes restarting sports Dec. 21, plans for state tournaments

The league's board of directors is expected to vote Thursday on a recommendation to approve starting the winter sports season three days after Gov. Tim Walz's four-week pause is scheduled to end.
From reduced attendance to canceled games, COVID-19’s effects have reshaped high school sports this year, including the Minnesota State High School

Smaller MSHSL fee hikes still leave some schools displeased

Some still believe the league didn't go far enough, and a legislator is calling for additional belt-tightening. Without state tournaments budgeted for this year, schools are being asked to fund more than half of the Minnesota State High School League's budget.
Reid Patterson (10) and Lakeville South were ranked No. 1 all season. Should they stay there?

OK, we'll pick a champion: With no Prep Bowl, Star Tribune writers name a mythical Class 6A football winner

Before playoffs, a mythical prep titlist was named. We're reviving that tradition.
Emma Wasiloski, 13, an eighth grader at North Heights Christian Academy who plays for Concordia Academy’s C volleyball team and elite club volleybal

Tears, frustration, resignation as prep sports takes another shutdown

Gov. Tim Walz's shutdown of youth and high school sports until mid-December delays the start of winter sports as part of new restrictions to curb rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases.
Caledonia football coach Carl Fruechte worries about his players’ mental health. He tells them, “Come on over to my house and scream if you need t

School's 71-game winning streak paused; COVID tears through prep schedules

Caldedonia High School's 71-game winning streak, tops among current streaks in the nation and second longest in state history, is on pause.
The Edina girls' cross-country team won the large-school division of the TC Running Company Showcase on Friday at Island Pine Golf Course in Atwater,

Amid conflicts, push builds to rethink Minnesota's prep state tournaments

While the director of the MSHSL is urging long-term vision for the return of state tournaments, one board member said some people see opportunities for athletes elsewhere that Minnesota has rejected.
COVID-19 has permeated Minnesota high school sports this year, from sanitizing sideline benches to not having state tournaments and forcing the Minnes

Schools push back on big fee increases for Minnesota prep sports

Three conferences and a group of Catholic schools say the Minnesota State High School League's plan to collect $3 million puts a disproportionate burden on its smallest schools.
A parking lot gave game officials (left to right) Jason Vogt, Andrew Aller, Brian Grandstand, Dan Sigl and David Rivera distance to gear up for Friday

Whistle stops: Pandemic gives high school officials one more call to make

Football gets back on track, but with a noticeably smaller officiating pool.
North St. Paul coach Stephanie Blanda led a workout during the first day of volleyball tryouts on Sept. 28 at the school.

Limited fans to be allowed for indoor Minnesota prep sports

Indoor events will go from no crowds to two people per participant.
The boys’ hockey game between Hill-Murray and Eden Prairie on March 7 was the last state championship game played before the COVID-19 pandemic shut

Winter prep sports approved with later starts, shorter seasons

Hockey, basketball and most other Minnesota high school winter sports will start from one to five weeks later than usual in an effort to minimize overlap with fall seasons.
Shawn Jones, 15, was one of 11 players who showed up for the first football practice of the year at St. Paul Humboldt High School.

As prep football starts, St. Paul Humboldt players challenge the odds

Only 11 players showed up for the first practice at Humboldt. And with the district in distance learning because of COVID-19, team information isn't as easily shared and transportation isn't readily available.
Garrett Prestholdt warmed up during Woodbury High School football practice on Monday. Teams resume play next month.

Minnesota prep football, volleyball approved for fall

The highly anticipated outcome drew more than 400 listeners to the league's virtual board meeting, where they heard impassioned dialogue about the risks involved.
Minneapolis Southwest player Nick Flaskamp ran the ball during a seven-on-seven game against Champlin Park on Sept. 12 at the Life Time Sport Winter P

Minnesota prep football, volleyball leagues rush in to fill metro area void

Passing leagues normally held during the summer have sprouted up along with club volleyball leagues in the absence of traditional high school seasons.
Duluth Denfeld coach Erik Lofald talked to his team on Aug. 4 after the Minnesota State High School League voted to delay football until spring.

Restarting Minnesota prep football, volleyball seasons full of challenges

The Minnesota State High School League called a special meeting for Monday that could reverse its decision six weeks ago to postpone both sports until March.
Denfeld football players reacted as they listened to head coach Erik Lofald talk to the team about the MSHSL decision to move football to the spring.

Fall football, volleyball may happen in Minnesota after all

The Minnesota State High School League is poised to schedule a highly unusual meeting to take up whether to reverse itself and start the football and volleyball seasons this fall.
In a sign of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on high school sports, the sideline benches at East Ridge High School were sanitized during a boys’ so

High school league shocks member schools by raising fees up to 300%

With the pandemic curbing major gatherings for sports, the league has no plans for traditional state tournaments, instead planning on smaller, still-to-be-­determined "culminating events."

Metro area's fall prep athletes to watch have less time to show what they've got

School just started this first week for many, but fall sports athletes are on a fast and strange track to the shortest season in memory.…
The East Ridge boys' soccer team stood for the national anthem while distanced 6 feet apart before a game against Mounds View on Thursday.

The prep life, 2020 style: Those who can play, do

Small and strange in some ways, but as competitive as ever in others: Welcome to the beginning of the fall high school sports season.
The 4-foot stick Stillwater cross-country coach Scott Christensen wielded during practice was not a social distancing guide, but a training aide.

Stillwater coach gives runners the long view: 'This season is still going to be great'

Stillwater runner's illness over the summer was a cautionary tale, dressed up as perspective.
BOLD Warriors halfback Blake Plass during last year's Class 1A Prep Bowl

MSHSL takes urgent steps to address fall sports, budget woes

The $9 million league set up one task force to prepare for three scenarios of fall sports and another to revamp its funding approach in a move to put more of the cost on schools.
The lights were turned on at McNamara Stadium / Todd Field in Hastings, Minn. in April to honor kids not being able to attend school because of the co

Minn. prep leaders discuss contingency plans as fall sports practice looms

The high school league's plan is expected in two weeks, after Gov. Tim Walz and state officials announce their decision on how Minnesota schools will start the school year.
Snow removal can be a late-season task at TCF Bank Stadium. Move Gophers football season to the spring, and those fickle March snowstorms can affect t

College, prep football in spring is unpopular option, but may be heading that way

Pandemic may drive the switch, even while tradition -- and school coffers -- absorb a big hit.
Isabella Mccauley of Simley tees off last June in the MSHSL state golf tournament.

Isabella McCauley defeats younger sister for Junior State Championship

Isabella and Reese McCauley, who play golf at Simley High School, entered the final day tied atop the leaderboard after spending entire days together practicing.
With NHL draft delayed, Gophers recruit Ratzlaff eyes football border battle

With NHL draft delayed, Gophers recruit Ratzlaff eyes football border battle

Rosemount's Jake Ratzlaff committed to Gophers hockey early, but he is also considering football. "He enjoys both and he's pretty good at both," said Chris McAlpine, a family adviser through Octagon Hockey
Andover players celebrated their 5-3 victory over Edina in the Class 2A girls’ hockey championship at the X in February.

First title for Andover girls' hockey caps a game and team worth remembering

For bringing home a championship in the program's first title-game appearance, the Huskies are the Star Tribune All-Metro Girls' Team of the Year.
Ben Zheng of New Life Academy is the winner of the Star Tribune All-Metro Difference-Maker Award.

Storing up positivity after hardship, New Life Academy's Ben Zheng inspires teammates

Senior Ben Zheng tried to support his classmates outside of school.
Wayzata head coach Lambert Brown saluted fans after his team won the state Class 6A title.

Program-rejuvenator Lambert Brown has Wayzata football back with the best

Star Tribune Boys' Team Coach of the Year Lambert Brown led the Trojans to a Prep Bowl championship in his third year of running the team.
Woodbury football players took part in the first summer workout allowed with coaches on Monday. “It’s a way different atmosphere when you’re wor

With no season promised, peer motivation returns as 300 Woodbury athletes go all in

The first day of summer workouts used social distancing guidelines, with athletes showing up "in good faith,'' coach Andy Hill said, that their sport of choice will be allowed this fall.
Jaycee Rhodes won the Senior Showcase with an even-par 72: “To have this opportunity was awesome,” she said.

No cancellation this time: Eastview's Rhodes wins girls' golf Senior Showcase

Jaycee Rhodes missed the past two high school seasons because of a transfer and a virus.
Hastings’ Todd Field is empty now. As for this fall, if the Raiders play, it’s uncertain how those game nights will look: Will there be any fans?

High school league sets summer plans despite hazy fall outlook

The Minnesota State High School League will allow coaches to start working with athletes on June 15, the first concrete step toward possibly resuming competition later this year.
State Senator Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center.

Prep sports eligibility rules get fresh heat from government, parents

The Minnesota State High School League is exploring revisions of two contentious league bylaws that help determine student-athlete eligibility.
Colin Hagstrom, right, was a hockey hero for Mahtomedi, scoring the winning overtime goal in the Class 1A final. He also is a lacrosse player for the

Mahtomedi two-sport seniors say hockey title eased sting of spring sports loss

Billy Buttermore and Colin Hagstrom captured a state championship in their final Mahtomedi athletic season.
The principal of Edina High School, Roland Ring, stopped by Southwest to offer congratulations after the city school beat the Hornets 1-0 for the 1970

50 years later, Southwest's hockey title win over Edina stands taller yet

Minneapolis Southwest vs. Edina was a fierce local rivalry at a time when 11 city schools had hockey teams, and the intersection of 50th and France was known as 'state title crossroad.'
On what proved to be the last night of the girls' basketball state tournament on March 12, the combined Hopkins and Farmington bands played several tu

Prep basketball teams deprived of tournament get consolation honor

All teams in contention for basketball state titles when the COVID-19 pandemic ended play will be known as "finalists'' and receive trophies and medals.
The Jordan baseball park, also known as the “Mini Met,” has been a frequent host of state tournament baseball games.

Everyone loses as high school spring sports are called off

The Minnesota State High School League made the announcement shortly after Gov. Tim Walz said that Minnesota schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year.
Minnetonka's Luke Tollefson playing safety in 2018. Of his winless 2019, he said: "Losing every week is tough. You could see it on the faces of the gu

Winless or last place: Three state athletes show dignity amid struggles

A winless season, a last place finish at state and a senior's season ending injury didn't keep these high school athletes from finding strength during the high school season.
North St. Paul’s Shaliciah Jones wanted to win three individual gold medals this spring as a senior.

Rare sweep of sprints by North St. Paul track star Shaliciah Jones in jeopardy but she keeps leading

North St. Paul senior Shaliciah Jones hoped to sweep 100, 200 and 400.
Esko players watched a game from the outfield fence as they waited for their game to start last June 6 at the girls' softball state tournament in Nort

'People want answers.' Over 200 school officials on prep video conference

"We recognize that working with unknowns and a great level of uncertainty is very difficult and can be very frustrating for everyone," MSHSL executive director Erich Martens said.
Maddie Dahlien took a shot against Bayliss Flynn, her summer soccer teammate, in a true 1-on-1 workout Monday. No other players were were on the pitch

Missing teammates: Prep athletes challenged by being #AloneTogether

Edina's Maddie Dahlien and Lakeville North's Bayliss Flynn are finding creative ways to develop their skills in multiple sports, but crave the normalcy of a spring sports season.
Members of the Rochester Lourdes girls' basketball team hugged after the MSHSL announced the cancellation of the state tournament on March 13. No prep

Return of spring sports more in doubt after governor's comments

Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday gave a strong signal to suggest students would not return to their school buildings before the current academic year ends, which almost certainly would mean no spring sports season.
The Blake girls’ lacrosse team played Minnehaha Academy in a game at Blake’s south campus in Hopkins on April 18, 2019.

Blake School extends sports shutdown to May 1; spring coaches hope, wait

The private school, one of the metro area's prominent athletic powers, is believed to be the first in the state to extend its sports program cancellations through April.
The family of Hill-Murray hockey player Charlie Strobel. From left, brother Ryan, mother Jill, father Mike, Chevy the dog, Charlie. Submitted family p

Heartbeat of an angel: Minnesota-bound Charlie Strobel removes all doubts

The star of Hill-Murray's hockey state tournament title run brings a blue-collar mentality to his game, inspired by a brother whose life he helped save in 2015.
The combined Hopkins and Farmington bands played several tunes together at the end of the Hopkins vs. Stillwater game.

High school league will base future actions on government directives

The meeting stemmed from what MSHSL executive director Erich Martens called the ''unbelievable and unpredictable'' disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This spring’s virus scare poses Benilde-St. Margaret’s girls’ lacrosse coach Ana Bowlsby difficulties for team bonding.

Minnesota spring sports teams cling to hope despite forced spring break

The COVID-19 restrictions challenge prep teams to train in creative ways but the spring sports seasons have not been called off outright.
Members of the Rochester Lourdes girls' basketball team including, Marissa Houfek, left, and Ella Hopkins, hugged each other after they left Williams

Minnesota high school sports abruptly canceled, 'devastating' those involved

The girls' basketball state tournament, which still had two days left of tournament play, was called off. No state champions will be determined.