Patrick Reusse
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Concordia Cobbers football coach Terry Horan and his assistants were aware later Wednesday that the couple found dead in their home in Long Prairie was Barry and Carol Bennett. Law enforcement did not make the identity of the Bennetts official until later, so it was not until Friday that Horan was able to talk to his players about this loss.

“Prior to practice today, I had the team gather at the ‘C’ on our field, and put their arms around one another,’’ Horan said Friday. “I said that while not all of them were aware of Barry and Carol, that they were great people, and then I told the players they also should be aware of this:

“Barry Bennett is the greatest athlete ever to walk through these halls, the greatest Cobber we’ve ever had.’’

Bennett’s 11-year career as an NFL defensive lineman – the Saints, the Jets and a last gasp with the Vikings for a game in 1988 – has received mention in the news stories on his death.

The memories of his domination in the heavyweight class as a collegiate wrestler are even clearer for those that saw him.

Dennis Koslowski, a bronze and silver Olympic medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling, now spends some of his time with the Twins as a chiropractor. He was walking through the home clubhouse around 4 p.m. on Friday.

We talked for a minute about the shocking details of the Bennetts’ deaths – a 22-year-old son Dylan, is the suspect – and then I asked Dennis if he ever wrestled against Barry.

“No, he was three years older than me, and already a two-time NAIA champion by the time I was a freshman at Minnesota-Morris,’’ Koslowski said. “I was at the NCAA Division III meet in 1978 in Wheaton, Illinois, just traveling with our team, and I saw Barry win his third national title there.

“He was in the final against a guy from Mount Union who was just a brick wall – built beyond belief.’’

The internet provided that wrestler’s name: Ken Wilcox.

“I remember thinking, ‘This is going to be a great match,’’ Koslowski said. “And then Bennett went out there and folded him like an accordion. He was so strong and athletic.

“I saw him not that long ago and mentioned that match against the wrestler from Mount Union. He said, ‘It was a simple move, but it caught him.’

“I also saw him play for football for Concordia. He would just go up and down the line, put his hands on the shoulder pads, and push blockers out of the way.’’

The fact Bennett followed his NFL career by settling in Long Prairie and becoming a physical education teacher is a strong indication of his humble nature.

“Barry was the gentlest giant,’’ Horan said. “Barry son’s, Barry Jr., was also a great player for us, and we’re also close to him.

“Dave Klug, an assistant here for three decades after his NFL career, played with Barry. They are great friends. We all loved the man, and Carol.

“This is going to be beyond belief for all Cobbers for a long time.’’