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Prep wrestling: State champ Anthony Luft refuses to rest easy

BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE State champion wrestler Anthony Luft returns to the Worthington Trojans this season to make another run at excellence.

Every step along his journey has stirred a great ambition for Anthony Luft to compete.

A dream was fulfilled for the Worthington High School wrestler last season, as Luft finished atop his 120-pound bracket in Class AA at Minnesota’s state tournament. He used triple overtime to defeat Foley’s Tyler Funk 7-5 for the championship.

It took a lot of work for Luft’s dream to come true, he said.

“It’s fun to know that your hard work is paying off, but you always know that you have so much more to work on,” Luft said of winning the state championship. “You’re always working toward perfection.

“People are thinking you may slow down and stop running more, lifting more or wrestling more,” he said. “It just makes you want more.”

That drive for perfection has driven Luft through his offseason ever since he stepped off the mat last March. He racked up a 38-1 record as a junior, losing only to an eventual state champion from North Dakota.

“It was a tough match and he kind of dominated me,” Luft said. “It’s good to lose once and awhile, I guess.”

Luft obviously rose above that loss last year, winning the first state title WHS has seen since Bryan Cowdin clinched his second championship as a senior in 2001.

Trojans head coach Mark Prunty said Luft has a motor that never quits churning away and working toward perfection.

“I think if you would track Anthony down in the middle of summer he would have no problems competing in a high-level tournament because he’s always in shape. He is kind of a wrestling junkie. To anyone who has followed wrestling, his success is no surprise,” Prunty commented.

“He works hard for it and has earned it. He sets a great example for our younger wrestlers on what it takes to be a state champion.”

Luft first got into wrestling when his father, Mike, suggested he try the sport. It was a way for them to bond.

Now many years later, as an assistant coach for WHS, Mike Luft was in the coach’s chair when his son won the state title. Anthony was sixth as a freshman at 103 pounds and fifth as a sophomore as he climbed to the top.

“It was incredible,” Mike Luft said of watching Anthony win last season at state. “He puts a lot of work into wrestling. It was his goal to win a state title. To see him fulfill it was incredible.”

The younger Luft’s work is far from over, as he is one of four returning seniors for this year’s team at WHS and will start at 126 pounds for the time being.

Carson Hagen, now a junior, comes in after seizing fourth at last year’s state tournament. Both wrestlers look to be team leaders as the season unfolds. The returning seniors are Luft, Zach Kempema, Joey Mills and Blake Schroeder.

The drive to succeed all the way to St. Paul begins now for the black-and-red, the younger Luft said.

“We’re really excited,” he said of the upcoming season. “It will be fun. We have big expectations for this year for me and for the team.”

Caleb Nelson
Caleb Nelson is the Daily Globe sports writer. He hails from southwest Iowa and served as sports editor at the Audubon County Advocate Journal there for 2 ½ years before moving to Worthington in October 2013. Caleb trys to enjoy life and everybody that he meets. He enjoys music, playing guitar and drums, and is an avid sports fan. 
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