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Continued: Exit of Mounds View's title-winning baseball coach hard to explain

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 27, 2014 - 9:32 AM

Quammen said there was friction on last year’s team but said it came from players who thought they should be playing more and “I didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary.” He said that, after Nuss won the state title, “I expected it to go away [because] winning makes everybody happy.”

When Nuss left the team, Abercrombie said he tried to explain what happened to his son, a sophomore last year. “We just tried to let him know that these things kind of happen. We don’t understand why they happen. Your mother and I don’t like that it happened,” he said. “It’s not fair.”

Jeff Ridlehoover, who became Mounds View’s principal in July, just weeks after the team won the state title, said he never heard from parents complaining about Nuss. Madison, meanwhile, said he receives parent feedback regularly — involving all sports — but said he could not tell whether any of it regarding Nuss was out of the ordinary because “I don’t know what ordinary would be.” Nuss was replaced with Mark Downey, who had previously coached the team.

“He wasn’t asked to leave. He chose to make those decisions on his own accord,” Ridlehoover said. “I know other coaches who’ve resigned over the years after they’ve won state championships. It didn’t strike me as odd.”

As the school’s baseball booster club met earlier his month, club officials declined to comment.

Outside the meeting room, the large trophy from last year’s state title team sat in a glass case near the school’s main entrance. Madison said that asking booster club members about Nuss’ departure — several months after it took place — would “probably create some feelings of unrest that haven’t been there for a while.”

Although Mounds View was considered to have a good team heading into last season, a variety of factors — including a harsh spring of lingering bad weather — shortened the season, and forced many high schools in Minnesota to fit a half-dozen games into a given week.

In the state tournament, Mounds View squeezed by Forest Lake, thumped Coon Rapids and faced Rocori in the title game on June 17. Mounds View scored all the runs it would need in the first inning. Hentges went 3-for-4, and Knutson scattered four hits while pitching a complete game.

Ricky Michel, activities director at Stillwater High School, said Mounds View was a preseason favorite to win the 10-team Suburban East Conference. “They came in probably with the best pitching staff,” said Michel, who also serves as baseball coordinator for the conference.

When Mounds View won the state title, Michel congratulated Nuss and told him he “made the conference look very good.” Michel said he still wants Nuss, despite what happened, to coach a high school baseball all-star game this summer.

“He’s a nice guy, very easy to work with,” Michel said.

Five months after he lost his head coaching job, Nuss said he is at peace with what happened. “I’m proud of the work I did,” said Nuss, who said he will be an assistant coach this year at a nearby high school that he declined to name. “I think God does things like this [and] presents us with new, unique opportunities.”

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  • Mounds View players piled on after its state baseball title in June. They lost their coach two months later.

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