Sports fans, prepare to be inspired! On Friday night, Charles City senior wrestler Lilly Luft made history by winning her third consecutive state wrestling title at the first state wrestling tournament hosted by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. But this wasn’t just any ordinary win—it was an emotional, powerful moment that showcased the power of love and connection.
Luft’s journey began when her brother, Logan, introduced her to the sport of wrestling. Logan had been a standout youth wrestler himself and it was his experiences in the sport that inspired Lilly to take up the sport. After Logan’s untimely death in an ATV accident in 2017, Lilly dedicated her wrestling career to him.
What made the night even more special was the presence of Ember Henderson, a 13-year-old girl from Louisville, KY. Logan had donated his organs after his death, and Henderson had received his heart when she was just seven years old. The Luft family had developed a friendship with Henderson, and they were thrilled to have her in the stands to witness Lilly’s big win.
Luft’s championship run capped a perfect senior season and a 40-0 record. She graduated with a 125-6 career record, giving her the most individual wins in state history for a girl wrestler. She also took her talents across the nation and around the globe, finishing fourth at the Cadet beach wrestling world championships in 2021.
To add to the accomplishments, Luft was honored before the finals with a scholarship from the Iowa Bankers Association. She will be continuing her wrestling career with the University of Iowa women’s wrestling program, joining both Schmit and Felicity Taylor, a South Winneshiek graduate who’s now a four-time collegiate national finalist and recently took fifth at the U23 world championships.
Lilly Luft’s story is a testament to the power of dedication and love. She has achieved so much in her wrestling career, and it is all thanks to her brother, Logan, who helped her start this journey. On Friday night, Lilly honored her brother in the best way possible—by taking home the state title.