University of Idaho dedicates indoor track to Lauren McCluskey

Lauren McCluskey Foundation and U of I honor Lauren’s memory



Then-freshman weight thrower Amy Kraemer competes in the women open weight throw at the WSU Open Indoor Track and Field Meet on Jan. 19, 2019 at the Indoor Practice Facility.

JOSIE GOODRICH, Reporter/Copy Editor

University of Idaho renamed its indoor track on Jan. 20 to honor and continue the legacy of the standout Division-I athlete, Lauren McCluskey, who was murdered while she attended University of Utah.

Timothy Cawley, executive director of UI track and field and cross country, saw Lauren on the first day of his new job in 2014, as she was running hurdles and practicing with her mom, Jill McCluskey, he said.

Just after a couple of weeks of watching Lauren train and practice, she was going into her senior year at Pullman High School and Cawley was trying to recruit her, he said. He could see the drive and dedication in her that was needed for success, something he wanted for his team.

“I don’t think that you spend as many hours as she would over the winter break or summer break just hanging out with mom and training if she didn’t have some passion for it,” Cawley said. “She was out there to compete, to train and to get better. She was very passionate, very driven.”

Lauren started that passion at just 8 years old when her mom entered her in track meets in Spokane and in Junior Olympics, Jill said. Lauren immediately started setting records in all of the events she was in and she continued her love for track all the way until her final days.

Although Lauren was a Pullman alumna, she spent her junior year of high school in Ohio where there was an Olympic training center, Jill said. Her senior year, she spent her days at the UI indoor field training and working with the coaches and team.

Lauren was a Washington high school state champion in the high jump and broke the Pullman High School 100-meter hurdles record, Jill said.

While she specialized in the high jump and hurdles, she participated in the heptathlon throughout her career.

As a standout on the field and a scholar in the classroom, Lauren received D-I offers from UI and WSU, but she ultimately decided she wanted to experience life away from home and committed to University of Utah for track and field.

“She enjoyed [Utah], she made great friends, especially in her dorm. She didn’t live with other athletes, she wanted to know friends both on the track team and regular students like her,” Jill said. “She had a really good experience, she liked being in a bigger city after growing up in a college town.”

Going into her senior year at Utah, Lauren was on track to graduate with honors and was interested in being an academic adviser because she understood the stress of being a D-I athlete and maintaining good grades, Jill said.

However, on Oct. 22, 2018, Lauren was killed by a man she briefly dated in Utah. When Cawley heard the news, he was standing in the exact spot where he met her and wanted to do something to honor the girl he had spent so much time training with.

Cawley wrote a letter signed by the team to Jill and Matt McCluskey asking if they could name their upcoming indoor track meet in honor of Lauren, he said. He didn’t even think that her parents would reply, but they happily responded yes and attended the meet.

As Cawley got the chance to talk to Jill at the meet, he learned the McCluskeys were in the process of a lawsuit with the university and potentially wanted to open a foundation with the funds, he said.

“She [expressed] what this facility and university meant to her daughter and she would love to give back to our track program,” Cawley said. “Then I got a call from her almost two years ago saying they wanted to donate a large amount of money and they were hoping for the honor to maybe have the track renamed.”

With the donation received from the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, UI decided that with the renaming of the track they wanted to make the track beautiful again and completely remodeled the facility, with Lauren’s name embedded largely in the surface, Cawley said.

On Jan. 20 the official dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting presented by Jill and Matt was held inside the Kibbie Dome for the new Lauren McCluskey Track. The presentation was held during the fourth annual Lauren McCluskey Memorial Open.

“We couldn’t be more thankful for them and their generous donation and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of a cause of their foundation and in helping broadcast their cause and Lauren’s name and Lauren’s Promise,” Cawley said. “I think it’s an incredible thing to kind of be tied to and we’re honored to have that ability to have her name on our track.”