TRACK AND FIELD: High jumpin’ in style: Fashionable McPherson powers up for nationals

Published 3:48 pm Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The last time Inika McPherson competed at Drake University, she was decked out in a Power Rangers suit, headgear, diamond prints and all.

What the 5-foot-4, 31-year-old from Port Arthur who commands attention with her style and high jumping skills will come up with next is anyone’s guess. Sometimes, a standard track uniform with a plenty of eye black will do.

“I’m always doing different things at different meets,” McPherson said via Facebook message while in preparation for this week’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships at Des Moines, Iowa’s Drake Stadium. “It never really comes to me until right before [a meet], although it has in advance. Simply put, you never know, lol.”

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McPherson jumped 1.91 meters, or 6 feet, 3.25 inches, in her black Power Rangers suit, finishing second to Vashti Cunningham, in the Drake Relays. That came on the 50th anniversary of the Lamar men’s track team’s fatal plane crash in Beaumont after flying from the same meet.

McPherson’s jump is a season best for the 2005 Memorial graduate, who is classmates with NFL running back Jamaal Charles and starred at the University of California before going pro. The two-time U.S. indoor champion high jumper is aiming for her second U.S. outdoor title and first since 2014, when she recorded her personal best of 6-6.75, or 2 meters even.

“Having already jumped 1.91 there [at Drake] this year, I feel very confident in my abilities to win gold!” McPherson said.

McPherson has also been getting more rest following a severe case of premenstrual syndrome that she characterized as “just horrible.”

“I’ve been battling with health issues this year that I now have a better hold on and excited to feel better at a meet without complications so that I can perform at an optimal level,” she said, naming her case of PMS as the health issue.

Cunningham, daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, is the defending national champion and has won twice this year. She was sixth during a Golden Gala meet in Rome on May 31, matching her season best of 1.94 meters (6-3.75).

Both competed in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, along with Chaunte Lowe, who was the highest-finishing American in fourth place. McPherson tied for 10th, and Cunningham tied for 13th.

But McPherson is carrying a frame of mind with visions of gold inside a baby-blue track course.

“I am the top,” McPherson said. “Vashti is a great competitor and great person. I believe everyone pushes each other to be the best version of themselves. Much love and respect to her.”

McPherson trains in The Woodlands and is doing her own personal training and coaching when she’s not competing. The motivation to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is much greater for McPherson, now that she’s been on the world’s biggest athletic stage. The USATF Championships during an Olympic year typically serves as a qualifier for those games.

“Creating a new team and doing what was once absent is being taken care of now,” she said. “I feel confident in winning gold there, too.”

To train with McPherson, email her at:

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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