It is only something that he thinks about every 5 minutes.
Standing on the 1992 Olympic wrestling mat in overtime, facing the man considered to be the best in the world, Doland native Dennis Koslowski had a moment of hesitation.
In the finals, I faced a Cuban named Hector Millian, who won the worlds the year before, and he had either pinned or tech-falled everyone up to the finals, Koslowski said. I thought there was a real chance I was going to get slaughtered, but here we are in overtime. One flaw I had was I didn't realize how ready I was.
There was a moment in the overtime where it was an all-or-none move and I hesitated and he scored.
Out of that moment came two things: disappointment for the South Dakota Greco-Roman Olympic wrestler and U.S. Olympic history.
Koslowski, who wrestled in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics for the U.S. Greco-Roman team, became the first wrestler to win Olympic medals in the sport with his silver medal at 220 pounds in 1992. That came on the heels of his bronze medal four years earlier, when he became the first American to win a medal in Greco-Roman in a fully-participated Olympics.
Can't stay away
In his first Olympics in Seoul, Koslowski was coming off a second-place finish at the world championships and made it through a busy first two days of competition to put himself in position to medal, needing to win a minimum of three more matches.
I wrestled four matches the first two days and had three more the last day, minimum, knowing if I lost any of those I wouldn't win gold, he said. I don't know if I wrestled great in that first match against Andzej Wronski of Poland and lost 1-0. But I stormed back to win two matches to win the bronze.
Retirement from competition followed the Seoul Olympics, but Koslowski took a job as the first Greco-Roman national team coach. The job included long hours and little pay and had him deciding to return to Minnesota and his chiropractic business after a year. However, the team was successful during his time as head coach, finishing in the top five at the worlds.
It also left him with a feeling that would return when he and his wife were watching the World Team Trials in Minnesota in 1990.
When I was coaching the national team, I never really got off the mat because I studied film of the top three guys, and it is hard to do something like that and not think, 'What would I do in that situation?' he said. So, when we were watching the team trials, my wife said to me, 'You know you can beat those guys.' I said, 'I know I can,' and she told me to do it.
He began training again two years out from the next Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. He had his successes, winning nationals in 1991, and he also had to make sacrifices, missing the birth of one of his children in order to compete in a ranking tournament.
Drawing on his experience from his first Olympics, Koslowski rolled to the gold-medal match in Barcelona before ultimately falling in overtime.
Koslowski said he was pleased with his performance in the match, but as with any loss, there were things he might have done differently looking back with the benefit of what he knows now.
Because I won the World Team Trials, I should have wrestled in the Pan-Am Game in '91, but the No. 2 guy wrestled in it because I didn't want to miss a month of practice heading into worlds, he said. If I would have wrestled the Cuban there, I would have had more of an understanding of what he did and what it took to beat him.
Koslowski's twin brother, Duane, was there with him throughout his career as a training partner as well as an Olympian himself. He knew just how good his brother was, but he also knew the obstacles he faced.
The biggest difference between he and I is (that) if he would see who he was going to wrestle, he would agonize over it and psych himself out, Duane said. It was a good match, but he would lose, and then he would beat himself up because it was always between his ears.
Duane got into Greco-Roman after Koslowski, but had plenty of success while Dennis was coaching him in the sport.
I contributed to his success because I took what he taught me and showed him he could be successful, Duane said.