Big Ten

Iowa Prep Star Chooses The Hawkeyes

Iowa Prep Star Chooses The Hawkeyes

Charles City senior Lilly Luft will stay home and wrestle for the University of Iowa.

Sep 29, 2022 by Kyle Klingman

Lilly Luft was wrestling with pain, so she turned to the sport her brother dedicated his life to. On July 15, 2017, Logan Luft — an incoming freshman at Charles City High School — lost his life at the age of 15 in an ATV accident. 

Logan traveled nationwide for practices, camps, and tournaments to participate in wrestling. Lilly never planned to compete in the sport that her brother loved, but now she has become a face for women’s wrestling across the state of Iowa. 

“I don’t think I would have wrestled (if Logan hadn’t passed) to be honest,” Lilly said. “There was a point after his accident where I felt lost — and that’s when I took up wrestling. Ever since then I feel like it’s brought me closer to him. It’s helped me in a huge way. I feel like I found myself throughout it. Wrestling is what I was born to do.”

Luft was also born to be a Hawkeye, which is why choosing the University of Iowa was an easy choice for the Charles City senior. She won IWCOA state titles the last two years and has a chance to win another next year when Iowa hosts the first sanctioned girls' state wrestling championships in Coralville. 

Her on-the-mat success has been used to encourage girls throughout the state to participate in wrestling. Participation in the Comet girls' wrestling program has tripled since Luft started competing as a freshman. Those numbers are a reflection of the upward trend for girls' high school wrestling throughout the state and the country. 

“Seeing women’s wrestling grow means so much to me even though I just 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 that I was feeling. I started the sport and I instantly fell in love with it and I felt closer to my brother. 

"After getting girls wrestling sanctioned in Iowa this year, I feel like we’ve moved that much further into the sport. I feel like I’ve been a big part of advocating for women’s wrestling in the state of Iowa just by promoting it and getting more girls to go 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 the sport and is one of four Division I colleges to offer wrestling. 

Iowa coach Clarissa Chun landed several high-profile commitments during her inaugural recruiting class. The addition of Luft will add visibility in a state that’s already on fire for wrestling. 

“Seeing the level of intensity and commitment these girls have in the room was my deciding factor,” Luft said. “They 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 that much better — especially after the inaugural women’s wrestling team starts next year. I can’t wait to get to the next level.”

Iowa will begin scheduled college competitions during the 2023-24 season.