The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa first-year wrestler Lilly Luft inspired by late brother

Luft is known for her success on the mat, but the reason why she’s here stretches far beyond the game.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Iowa’s 130-pound Lily Luft shows off the tigerhawk during the Trailblazer Duals between No. 3 Iowa, No. 6 Sacred Heart, No. 13 Presbyterian, and No. 11 Lindenwood at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. Iowa women’s wrestling made history on Sunday, hosting the first women’s wrestling dual in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes defeated Presbyterian, 44-1, Lindenwood, 43-0, and Sacred Heart, 40-4.

The Iowa women’s wrestling program took the mat on Nov. 4 for the first time in program history.

Iowa is the first Power Five university to implement a women’s wrestling team, and others are sure to follow.

For each of the 28 wrestlers on the squad, it’s more than just winning a match or leading your team to victory. It’s about inspiring young women across the country to pursue their dreams while drawing inspiration from their own role models.

For Iowa first-year Lilly Luft, the sport of wrestling stretches far bigger than the mat. While most family members watch from the stands, Luft’s biggest fan was her late brother.

Tragedy strikes

Lilly grew up in Charles City, Iowa, a small town of just over 7,000 people tucked into the northeast corner of the state.

She is the youngest of three siblings — Logan, Landon, and Lilly. All three siblings were referred to as the “Three L’s” because of their close bond with each other.

In the summer of 2017, Logan Luft was 15 years old and gearing up for his first year at Charles City High School.

Among his passions were hunting, fishing, and cross country. Some of his favorite memories were turkey hunting with his father, Lenny Luft, and fishing in his great-grandfather’s pond.

Most of all, he had a distinct love for wrestling and would live, eat, and breathe the sport whenever he could. He captured the Iowa Greco–style championship at 94 pounds that year.

His lifelong goal was to win a state championship for the Comets, and he was preparing to wrestle at 106 pounds for his high school team.

“He always strived to set really high goals for himself, and he was just very determined, and that just made him a great wrestler,” Lilly said.

On the Fourth of July in 2017, tragedy struck.

That evening, Logan was involved in a serious ATV accident. After being airlifted to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, he was declared brain dead the following afternoon and was taken off life support.

“He chose to be a donor during his driver’s ed class,” his mother, Wendy Luft, said. “He decided if anything would happen to him that he would want to be a donor. Unfortunately, his accident was three months later.”

Following Logan’s passing, the close, tight-knit community of Charles City rallied around the Luft family.

Logan’s friends, classmates, and loved ones shared heartfelt tributes on social media. In October 2017, IAWrestle named him the honorary captain at their annual “Night of Conflict” event at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Through all these tributes, the biggest one was born.

Logan’s law

After his son’s death, Lenny Luft, a Charles City police officer, was out on patrol one night when he discovered that the state of Minnesota had recently passed a new law.

The law stated that anyone who signed up to get a hunting or fishing license could also register to become an organ donor to capitalize on the large number of people who sign up for licenses each year.

Lenny Luft immediately thought of his late son and his love for the outdoors, quickly realizing how important this law would be for the state of Iowa.

“Lenny contacted a legislator who agreed to write the law, and it was perfect timing because the DNR happened to be going digital,” Wendy Luft said.

Though it was the perfect idea to honor their son’s memory, the process of creating the law did present a few challenges for the family.

“Anytime you are dealing with what’s best for the entire state, legislators are very adamant that they make sure that this law would be beneficial for all Iowans,” Wendy Luft said.

That wasn’t the only problem.

Many local funeral homes are set to lose money when people decide to donate their organs due to the donors being taken to a procurement center in Des Moines.

Despite some of these obstacles, the Luft family continued to discuss the potential law with legislators across the state.

“As a family, we sat down with as many legislators as we could to tell our story personally. After hearing about our experience, they were incredibly supportive,” Wendy Luft said.

Then, two years after his passing, Logan’s Law was officially enacted.

The law allows hunting, fishing, and trapping license buyers to declare themselves as organ, eye, and tissue donors when purchasing hunting and fishing licenses.

“It means a lot to our family because when you renew your driver’s license, it’s only every eight years, and it’s a way to get more donors,” Lilly said.

Logan’s organs have saved five lives, and his tissues and bones have saved an additional 21 people.

The Luft family has been fortunate enough to connect with four of the five families that have received their son’s organs, including during this year’s state tournament, which Lilly won.

“It truly makes a mom look at loss differently looking into the eyes of these little girls knowing they are only alive because my son died,” Wendy Luft said. “I love each of our recipients deeply and feel so blessed to have them in our lives.”

Every pin is for Logan

In 2019, ahead of her first year of high school, Lilly decided to wrestle in honor of her late brother.

“After losing Logan, I felt like I had lost a piece of myself, and when I had a program open at my high school, I decided to give it a try,” Lilly said.

In high school, Lilly compiled a 125-6 career record, the most career wins by a female in Iowa high school wrestling history. She also captured three consecutive state championships and was ranked No. 1 nationally during her prep career.

All those accolades are special to her, especially since she accomplished her brother’s life-long goal of winning a state title. She reflected on the moment she earned her first championship.

“It was unlike anything that I’ve ever felt before,” Lilly said.

Every time Lilly wins a match, it’s for her brother.

“I’ve been able to kind of get closer to him in a way and accomplish some of the goals that he set for himself,” Lilly said.

On Nov. 12, Lilly competed in her first-ever collegiate match, defeating Sacred Heart’s Bayley Trang via tech fall. Immediately after the match, she was swarmed by her teammates.

Head coach Clarissa Chun said her team’s energy makes them stand out.

“They bring a lot of energy, and they know how to have fun and keep it light,” Chun said.

In her first-ever match, Lilly Luft certainly provided some of that energy.

It has been over six years now since Logan’s passing, but the Charles City community has kept Logan’s memory alive and well.

If you drive around town or walk into the local grocery store, you will most likely hear the phrase #Lufttuff. It’s a slogan that Lilly and her family live by daily.

Lilly encourages the public to register as organ donors, so more lives can be saved.

“Once you pass away, there’s nothing that you can do with those organs,” Lilly said. “If you have the opportunity to save another person’s life, that just means so much.”

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About the Contributors
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.