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SALT LAKE CITY — As golden-hour light illuminated hundreds gathered on the University of Utah's campus Wednesday evening, only the faint sound of crying broke the silence.
Students, staff and community members met in front of the Park Building steps to remember their classmate and pupil Lauren McCluskey, a senior and star on the track team.
"Lauren McCluskey was an outstanding young woman. She was a joy to coach. When you recruit a student athlete, you try to understand them, get to know them," said U. head track and field coach Kyle Kepler.
"And when you bring them on campus, you have an idea of what you want them to be or what you think they can be. And I think Lauren exceeded in all of those areas."
On the sunset-soaked campus, the feeling of loss and love for the young woman who, by all accounts, impacted many for good served as a stark contrast to the cruel way she was taken two days earlier, gunned down by an enraged ex-boyfriend who had lied about his age and his "womanizing" history.
For three of McCluskey's teammates who spoke on the building's steps, the loss is devastating. The women huddled together, comforting each other as they spoke and helping each other finish their thoughts.
"There are no words to describe the pain and loss we're feeling as a team right now," Eliza Hansen said.