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Lilly Luft signs to become member of first Hawkeye women’s wrestling team

Lilly Luft signs to become member of first Hawkeye women’s wrestling team
Press photo by John Burbridge
Lilly Luft poses for a photo with Mark Sindlinger shortly before signing to continue her wrestling career at the University of Iowa. Sindlinger wrestled and played football at Iowa after becoming a three-time state wrestling champion at Charles City.
Luft, incidentally, will be going for her third state title with the Comets.

By John Burbridge

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CHARLES CITY — If she hasn’t done it already, Lilly Luft is due to make history in spades.

The Charles City senior already has two state wrestling titles to her credit, winning the 126-pound bracket as a sophomore before topping all 130-pounders as a junior at the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Girls State Tournament — feats she accomplished in memory of her older brother Logan who died in an ATV accident in 2017.

Almost needless to note, Luft is gearing for her third state title this upcoming winter. But the path is due to be a little more arduous.

“Now there are going to be qualifying rounds to get to state,” Luft said of the upcoming Iowa high school girls wrestling season, which officially became a sanctioned high school sport at the end of last season with the announcement coming shortly before Luft won her second-straight title.

“I’m excited to get the chance to wrestle in this first (sanctioned) season.”

Last season, Luft defeated Waverly-Shell Rock’s Macy Smith for the 130-pound crown. Smith, who had defeated Luft earlier in the season, was the state’s top-ranked 130-pounder at the time.

Smith has graduated and Luft, who plans to wrestle again at 130, is ranked No. 1 in her weight class going into this season.

Whatever happens during this historic first-sanctioned high school girls wrestling season, Luft is due to make even more history when she moves on to the next level.

On Thursday at Tellurian Brewing, Luft had a public letter-of-intent signing to continue her wrestling career at the University of Iowa where she will be a member of the Hawkeyes’ first women’s college-sanctioned team for the 2023-24 season.

“Other college schools have started women’s wrestling programs,” Luft said, “but Iowa will be the first (NCAA) Division I Power Five school to start one.”

Luft made the decision to become a part of Iowa’s initial women’s team several weeks before Thursday’s signing. But she has already spent much of her summer in Iowa City at the Hawkeye Wrestling Club’s Regional Training Center.

Luft has been a multisport athlete at Charles City for much of her underclass years. But this senior season she is going to be focused on wrestling while competing in prestigious offseason tournaments before and after her final prep season.

“Right now I’m getting ready for the Super 32 Challenge,” Luft said of the national tournament held Oct. 15-16 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

On its website, the tournament touts that 70% of the NCAA Division I All-Americans and 60% of the NCAA Tournament finalists had wrestled in the High School Division at the Super 32 Challenge.

At Iowa, Luft plans to study exercise science and kinesiology.

“I’m just thankful for the support of the community,” Luft said amidst a large gathering of family, friends and coaches present at Tellurian for the signing.

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