You don’t realize how tight a community of athletes are until something tragic happens.
When Charles City teen Logan Luft died tragically in an ATV accident this summer, the Charles City community and wrestling scene in Iowa came together as one, and #LuftTuff was born.
Photos from district wrestling finals in Parkersburg on Saturday.
You see it almost any place that Charles City is at, no matter the sport. Luft, who would have been a freshman at the start of the school year, left a legacy larger than life. And it means maybe even more than that on the wrestling mat – a place Luft loved and had aspirations of being a state champion.
This past December, the Battle of Waterloo wrestling tournament gave out an award for most pins by an individual, dubbed the #LuftTuff pin chain, Upper Iowa University and coach Heath Grimm honored Luft at one of their meets this season, and this week at the state wrestling tournament in Des Moines, the Luft family are VIPs.
But maybe no place has been affected by Luft’s passing than his hometown and his wrestling team. They’ve been using his inspiration all season to help them go above and beyond on the mat.
“We don’t just wrestle for ourselves; I feel like he’s still with us,” Charles City junior Dylan Koresh. “We’re wrestling for a reason and not just for ourselves.”
The Charles City wrestling team had big goals on its mind at the start of the season, and also had to focus itself without someone in Luft they knew was going to big a big contributor to that success.
With a young team and a first-year coach in Ryan Fank, getting up to speed was going to take a bit, and Luft’s memory helped guide the way early on.
“Coming in, definitely a very tragic thing,” Fank said. “Guys responded to it well. We had a couple guys come out who were new to it, who were friends with Logan and wanted to give it a shot.”
But not having him on the team was still a blow.
“It was hard because he would’ve fit into our lineup very well, he would’ve scored points and helped with our team and made us even better than we were working toward,” Charles City sophomore Jack Sindlinger said. “He just would’ve made us better in every aspect – in life and in wrestling.”
Through it all, Charles City has come out more of a family, they say. And they are a team back on the rise.
The Comets had seven district qualifiers, and in Saturday’s district meet at Aplington-Parkersburg, they pushed three wrestlers on to the state tournament – Koresh, who was a district champ, Sindlinger and Josh Halligan.
They’re not satisfied with just making it, though. They want medals, and they’re all confident they can do it.
“Those three guys, I want them all on the podium,” Fank said. “They’re putting in the time, they’re putting in the opportunities, and they’re going to get it done.”
Inside the room this year, their motto, of sorts, has been to put Charles City wrestling back on the map. The Comets feel like they're close to accomplishing just that.
“I think we’ve made a really big jump this year, and I think we’re going to do some damage in the coming years,” Sindlinger said. “We’ve got some good younger kids, and we’re just going to keep building and working our butts off.”
Added Koresh, “It’s a legacy. It’s all about the coming years. How we do this year should dictate how we do next year … just keep improving each year.”
When you go down to Des Moines this week, look for the bright orange shirts around Wells Fargo Arena with #LuftTuff printed across the back. In a field full of passionate and emotional kids all looking to leave their own mark, don’t doubt the drive of the kids from Charles City. After all, they’ve got their biggest supporter looking down on them in Logan.
“It just makes us want to work even harder and do something that’s bigger than just for ourselves,” Sindlinger said. “He would have done some great things in wrestling. And we just want to be like Logan, do what he does and live our life like how we did.”