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Steve C. Wilson, University of Utah
Lauren McCluskey

PULLMAN, Wash. — A University of Utah track athlete who was shot by a sex offender parolee she had briefly dated has been buried in her hometown of Pullman, Washington.

Lauren McCluskey was remembered late Sunday as kind, sensitive, intelligent, dedicated and beautiful.

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported that hundreds of mourners turned out for the funeral of the 21-year-old graduate of Pullman High School.

Jill McCluskey, Lauren's mother, said her daughter was special from the beginning.

"She was driven, smart, athletically gifted and beautiful," said Jill McCluskey, who stood next to her husband, Matt. "She was hard-working and resilient."

She said she is proud of how her daughter lived her life.

"Every day right now is painful for us because I know I can't pick up the phone and call you," she said. "I can't go on mom jogs with you when you come home from college."

A large photo of McCluskey, along with her blue Pullman High letterman jacket, red Utah jacket and other memorabilia were displayed near the front of the stage Sunday.

Some of McCluskey's friends reflected on her love for singing, dancing, animals — especially cats — and even her joy in unplanned trips to Target.

Utah track and field coach Kyle Kepler used terms like genuine, sweet, respected and coachable to describe McCluskey. He said she had a relentless determination to improve.

"She was always a great teammate," Kepler said. "She always led by example and she cared about everyone every single day. Lauren was most definitely the person who looked in the mirror and asked, 'How can I be a better person today than I was yesterday.' And then she went out and tried to find that answer every day."

University of Utah President Ruth Watkins said McCluskey was the type of student who made any university campus vibrant.

She posthumously awarded a communication degree to McCluskey.

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Watkins said a scholarship fund established in McCluskey's name had collected nearly $50,000 and counting, with contributions from all over the world. Watkins said the university will be able to provide the first scholarships in McCluskey's name next fall.

"Lauren will always be remembered at the University of Utah," Watkins said.

A man who had spent nearly a decade in prison, and who had briefly dated McCluskey, killed the woman Oct. 22, after confronting her in a parking lot on the Salt Lake campus. She had filed a complaint weeks earlier with campus police alleging he had demanded money in exchange for not posting compromising pictures of the couple online.