Iowa Prep Star Picks Hawkeyes
Lilly Luft was struggling with pain, so she turned to the sport her brother dedicated his life to. On July 15, 2017, Logan Luft – a freshman at Charles City High School – died at the age of 15 in an ATV accident.
Logan traveled all over the country for practices, camps and tournaments to compete in wrestling. Lilly never planned to compete in the sport her brother loved, but she has now become a face of women’s wrestling across the state of Iowa.
“I don’t think I would have struggled (if Logan hadn’t been successful) to be honest,” Lilly said. “There was a time after his accident where I felt lost – and that’s when I started to struggle. Since then, I feel like it’s brought me closer to him. That helped me tremendously. I feel like I found myself throughout. Wrestling is what I was born to do.
Luft was also born to be a Hawkeye, which is why picking the University of Iowa was an easy choice for the Charles City senior. She has won IWCOA state titles for the past two years and has a chance to win another one next year when Iowa hosts the first sanctioned State Girls Wrestling Championships in Coralville. .
Her success on the mat was used to encourage girls across the state to participate in wrestling. Participation in the girls’ Comet wrestling program has tripled since Luft began competing as a rookie. These numbers reflect the upward trend in high school female wrestling across the state and nation.
“Watching women’s wrestling grow means a lot to me, even though I started wrestling a few years ago after losing my brother,” Luft said. “I just felt like I needed something to help me deal with this grief I was feeling. I started the sport and immediately fell in love with it and felt closer to my brother .
“After having women’s wrestling sanctioned in Iowa this year, I feel like we’ve gone a lot further in the sport. I feel like I’ve played an important role in defending the women’s wrestling in the state of Iowa simply by promoting it and getting more girls out.
The University of Iowa made waves last year when it announced the addition of women’s wrestling. Iowa is the first Power Five program to add sports and is one of four Division I colleges to offer wrestling.
Iowa coach Clarissa Chun landed several high-profile engagements during her first recruiting class. Adding Luft will add visibility in a state that is already on fire for the fight.
“Seeing the level of intensity and commitment these girls have in the room was my deciding factor,” Luft said. “They’ve set the bar extremely high and I live for that kind of challenge. I feel like everyone is so supportive of Iowa women’s wrestling and I feel like it’s going to get better, especially after the inaugural women’s wrestling team debuts next year. I can’t wait to take it to the next level.”
Iowa will begin scheduled college competitions in the 2023-24 season.