116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — In the past year, Jessica Heims has surrendered a world record, but gained a ring.
“I did, yes,” Heims beamed, referring to the latter, showing off her engagement ring on a Zoom call at the Drake Relays.
Heims has all sorts of personal milestones on the not-so-distant horizon. A biology major, she’ll graduate from the University of Northern Iowa in May, and her wedding day is set for Oct. 2 with former UNI football player Hezekiah Applegate.
Then there’s a June day in Minneapolis, when the Team USA Paralympic squad will be determined.
A 22-year-old Swisher native and a 2017 Cedar Rapids Prairie graduate, Heims was all lined up and qualified for Tokyo in 2020. But COVID-19 hit, the Games were canceled, and now, Heims has to qualify all over again.
“It would mean so much to me,” she said Friday after competing in the Drake discus competition. “It would be an honor to represent the red, white and blue again.”
Heims is a veteran to international competition.
She placed seventh in the 400-meter dash and eighth in the discus at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. She held the world record in her division (F64) — the category for below-the-knee amputees — for a time, but that has since been broken. The new standard is 119 feet, 10 inches.
“I have a new goal now,” said Heims, who has thrown as far as 116-6 in competition.
She threw 111-10 Saturday.
Heims had Amniotic Band Syndrome, a random congenital birth defect in which the fetus becomes entangled in fibrous amniotic bands in the womb, restricting blood flow and affecting development.
At birth, her lower right leg and foot lacked muscle and bone. Within 12 months, amputation was necessary.
But Heims always has been physically active.
Within two weeks of receiving her first prosthetic leg, she was walking. She tried most sports when she was a little girl, and her first experience with track and field was at age 10 with the Cedar Rapids Track Club.
Trials for Team USA are June 17-20. She had to reset both physically and emotionally after the 2020 cancellation.
“That’s the tricky thing, getting back up for it again,“ Heims said. "Since last summer, I’ve had some great training.”
Drake Relays College Division highlights (former area preps)
- Hawkeye Community College’s Blake Osborn (Benton Community) won the first heat of the men’s 400 in 48.25, and that effort was good enough for fourth overall.
- Former Marion prep Maddie Bach of Nebraska-Kearney finished fifth in the women’s 5,000, in 17:46.60.
- Peyton Steva of Indian Hills Community College (former Iowa City West) advanced to the final of the women’s 100-meter hurdles, which will be contested Saturday morning.