Irons was stubborn. He was adamant that he was not a triple jumper when Haddon Heights sprints and jumps coach Jabari Higgs introduced him to it when Irons was a freshman.
Higgs would not let him long-jump unless he triple-jumped.
Irons went on to win two Meet of Champions titles in the triple jump, in 2011 and 2013, and set a state record when he jumped 50 feet, 63/4 inches at this year's Group 1 state championships. He even hopes to make it to the Olympics as a triple jumper.
"To think about not jumping, it cracks me up," said Irons, who also finished second at the Meet of Champions in the 100-meter dash and will compete in college for North Carolina A&T. "I'm at the point where I'm good, and I was at the point when I didn't even want to do it."
Higgs choked up while reminiscing about Irons' record-breaking jump at the state meet at Egg Harbor Township and where he started.
"He was flying out there," Higgs said. "I still get tickled right now because it was amazing to be out there to see it.
"He did not want to do it, and to see that, whew."
Higgs remembers bumping heads with Irons over the years. He even threw Irons off the track twice - first for not working hard because of his distaste for the triple jump, then as a junior for no longer pushing himself after winning a Meet of Champions title as a sophomore.
"In those [instances], he's rebounded and shown me he's really in tune with what it takes to be a winner," Higgs said. "I'm really proud of him. He stuck with it."
Seeing all the awards and honors Irons has picked up in high school, Higgs is at a loss for words.
"It's amazing," he said. "To know the things he's accomplished, it's mind-blowing. I'm speechless.
"It speaks for itself. He owns the triple jump. He's the best triple jumper in the state of New Jersey, ever."
Contact Nick Carroll and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @NickJCarroll.