Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- "It's hard for the Central kids, especially, and as Denfeld kids we have to respect them," Trojans senior outfielder Travis Madgzas said. "Besides that, it's going to be hard never playing here again."
Once cross-town athletic rivals, they came together at the beginning of this year - Trojans and Hunters - under one name, that of Duluth Central.
Next fall, those very same student-athletes will move back to Duluth Denfeld, meaning Duluth Central will be no more.
A strange feeling, yes, but the baseball team said this week everyone has done their part to make it a positive.
"At the beginning it was kind of weird, but now we're just like a big family," Madgzas said.
"It's actually been pretty fun," Trojans senior pitcher Jon Kusch said. "I've made a lot of new friends that I probably never would have."
"Kids are more resilient than parents, I believe," Trojans head coach Pat Bergquist said. "They come together and mesh. They want to do well and want to see others do well."
So well, in fact, that the Trojans got the chance to host a playoff baseball game, marking the last home athletic contest in school history.
Central lost that game to the Elks of Elk River, but Bergquist said he saw no losers on the field.
"It's not just about the baseball," Bergquist said. "That was a great challenge for some kids to meet."
It was a challenge of a different kind Wednesday night across town as UMD junior Marcus Riewer and the Duluth Huskies opened up their 2011 schedule, looking to improve on a mediocre season in 2010.
Duluth won the opener 3-1 over St. Cloud, in front of nearly 3,500 people at Wade Stadium.
"Playing in front of a crowd like this is definitely new to me," Riewer said. "I'm from a small town where we draw less than 50 fans a game. This is definitely a change."
"It was a great night and the fan support was outstanding," Huskies manager Daniel Hersey said. "We look forward to playing in front of this crowd the rest of the summer."
It'll be a fun summer as always for Huskies fans, and for Huskies players as they try to get to know one another.
"I still don't know most of the guy's names," Riewer said. "We go by number or, 'Hey, you.' We'll get used to it."
"These guys gelled together pretty well. It's going to be fun year. I'm excited for it, and I'm excited for these fans," Hersey said. "The support from the community has been unbelievable."
Unbelievable. That's the word Riewer used to describe the feeling of putting that jersey on day in and day out, going to play ball.
"I love playing baseball in the summer," Riewer said. "The weather is generally nicer and you don't have to worry about schoolwork. Just play baseball."
Posted by Zach Schneider