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New track facility dedicated to beloved track star Lauren McCluskey at University of Idaho

Lauren McCluskey Track
Posted at 6:07 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 20:07:58-04

It was 2018 when Lauren McCluskey, a track and field athlete at the University of Utah, was murdered by her boyfriend.

Her parents have made it their mission to tell her story and help prevent future cases of dating abuse. Now their daughter's name will live on in the sport she loved on the track she grew up training on.

Lauren McCluskey grew up in Pullman, Washington and trained at the University of Idaho's Kibbie Dome.

"It snows of course in Pullman and Moscow in the winter, and she really loved track and field," explains her mom Jill McCluskey said. "I wanted her to have a place to run and she was always welcome to work out here on the track at the University of Idaho."

Slain track star Lauren McCluskey
U of I names track after Lauren McCluskey

In high school, she was the Washington state champion in the high jump and held the record for the 100-meter hurdles at her high school in Pullman.

Lauren was such a regular presence at the Kibbie Dome growing up, the track and field staff virtually adopted her.

"I'm sure that the coaches, knowing the people they are, were helpful in accommodating whenever she wanted to come in or if she needed anything," U of I Athletic Director Terry Gawlick said.

But when Lauren went to college, it was to the University of Utah, not Idaho.

Lauren was shot dead at 21 on the University of Utah campus by a man she had dated in October of 2018.

Her death brought to light the issue of dating violence that is too often ignored by universities.

"We just are making sure people understand what a serious problem this is and that we have a lot left to do, yes," Jill said.

Lauren McCluskey Track

The McCluskey's settled with the University of Utah for $13 million. In the settlement, the university agreed to make a $3 million donation to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation. The terms of the settlement with the University of Utah also specify the university will build a track facility in her honor by the end of 2030.

Now her parents are using their own money to refurbish the Kibbie Dome track she loved so much.

"She kept practicing and kept improving and developing her skills and it was definitely a factor in making her competitive to get a college scholarship," Jill said.

Lauren McCluskey Track

The new, state of the art track will be named after Lauren.

"It's just a great tribute to her. I'll be honest, it's one of the hardest thank you notes I have to write when I send them a note of thanks because of the horrific situation but great memory," Gawlik said. "I just told the parents a while ago I know she's running around the track in spirit smiling."

McCluskey's parents hope the namesake keeps the conversation going about dating abuse. But for them, it's a place to come watch the athletes and remember something that brought their daughter so much joy.

"It's got her name written right on the track and it's just a beautiful facility," said Jill.

The McCluskey's donated a $1 million to the Kibbie Dome project.

The first-class running surface will allow the U of I to host events like the Big Sky Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in 2023.