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Community leaders react to epic achievement as Port Arthur high jumper makes Olympic squad

A Port Arthur field star is heading back to the Olympics. Inika McPherson finished second in the high jump at the Olympic track and trials in Oregon this week, which earned her a provisional spot on the team.

McPherson announced she made the USA team on her social media pages.

“Making and Olympic team takes hard work,” she said in an Instagram post. “Telling your friends No I can’t go out, I have training in the a.m., telling your fam you can’t make an event, even though you would love to go, giving up the weekend. I don’t know what that is…”

She will compete with the rest of Team USA in Tokyo next month.

The 34-year-old Memorial graduate cleared 6’4”, which is a season-best.

McPherson represented the United States in the Olympics in 2016 in Rio, finishing in a tie for 10th place.

The former Titans star graduated from Memorial in 2005.

She was classmates with NFL running back Jamaal Charles and starred at the University of California before going pro.

McPherson went to Lincoln High School as a freshman and was part of the first sophomore class at Memorial. She was a constant contender in the UIL state meets for the next three years, although she didn’t bring a title to the Titans. She did, however, equal the second-best outdoor jump of the 2000s in her regional meet at 6-2 in 2005. That helped her earn the All-Decade All-American honor from ESPN.com.

McPherson enjoyed an All-American career when she had to undergo ankle surgery following her junior season at California. With a coaching change and rehabilitation to deal with, McPherson decided to step away from the sport.

McPherson finished third in the U.S. outdoor championships in 2011, second in the U.S. indoors in 2012 and second in the U.S. outdoors in 2013. She tried out for the 2012 Olympics in London, but a tear in her right quad caused her to not record a height during U.S. team trials.

Precinct 2 Constable Chris Bates and PAISD School Board Member Brandon Bartie both graduated two years before McPherson, but remember her well.

“Inika was always a top athlete in school,” Bartie said. “She was always an exceptional track athlete and basketball player for Memorial. For her to make it a second time, it is exciting, because I went to school with her. For someone to represent Port Arthur and the United States of America is awesome.”

Bates said McPherson shows the abundance of talent coming out of the city.

“She was always a hard worker and competitor,” he said. “You could tell, because of her persistence and dedication to the sport, that she was going to do something with it. It wasn’t just about the scholarship. You knew she was really going to do big things with this. Now, she is going to the Olympics for the second time and I can tell you right now that we are very proud of her.”

The Olympics begin July 23 and run through Aug. 8. The track and field events are set for July 30-Aug. 8.

Reporting from I.C. Murrell contributed to this story.