Fields knew that if he could just get Hayles, now a senior at Roselle, to buy into the hurdles, the potential was there for him to do something big over the barriers.
"All last year coach kept trying to get me to do the hurdles, but I didn't want to do it and just refused,'' said Hayles, who stuck to the sprints as a junior last year.
Fields stayed after Hayles, and finally gave him no choice this year.
"He just basically told me this indoor season that I had no choice and was doing the hurdles,'' said Hayles, a star soccer player who came out for track last year. "So I gave in and decided to try it and see how it goes.''
The results have been staggering!
During the indoor season, Hayles proved to a quick learner, improving every race and winning the 55m hurdles at the Union County Championships in 7.56.
This spring, Hayles has been one of the biggest suprises in the state and has taken his hurdle game to a whole new level, combining his raw talent and rapidly improving technique to become one of the best in the state in both the 110m hurdles and the 400m intermediate hurdles.
Hayles has gotten faster each week over the barriers this season and showed everyone that he's a major contender to win a state title with a sensational double at the Union County Championships at Hub Stine Field in Plainfield.
On Wednesday, Hayles won the 400 hurdles in a NJ#6 54.37, and came back on Thursday to blast a NJ#2 and school record 14.01 to win the 110 hurdles.
"I'm suprised that I got the win in the high hurdles because I was the underdog,'' said Hayles, who has yet to commit to a college. "But I ran my best race and it's real exciting to get the wins at the county meet and get my times down.''
Hayles has seen his times come down in every race over the 110m hurdles-14.59, 14.34, 14.14, and now 14.01.
Fields has coaches several state champs in the hurdles, most recently 2015 grad Ray Clark, a muiltiple state champ in both hurdle races. Clarke had personal bests in high school of 14.23 in the 110m HH and 53.35 in the 400m IH.
"Jaheem really tries to to work on the technical part of his race,'' said Fields. "I've really focused on getting him faster between the hurdles. Ray was such a smooth hurdler, but Jaheem has more speed. I believe he has the ability to go at least 13.7 and maybe into the 13.6 range.''
If Hayles can get under 13.70 he'd be in very fast company. Only 10 hurdlers in state history have run fully automatic times of 13.70 or faster. It must be mentioned that Renaldo Nehemiah of Scotch Plains-Fanwood ran a 12.9 hand time in 1977.
The state's top 10 auto times are listed below.
One of the hurdlers on the list is Sincere Rhea of St. Augustine, who has run an NJ#4 all-time and US#3 13.52 this season. Rhea won the 60m hurdles at the New Balance Nationals this past indoor season.
Can Hayles challange Rhea for the Meet of Champions title in the 110m hurdles?
That's a tall order and remains to be seen, but right now Hayles is a major contender to win the state Group 2 title in both hurdle races.
Pretty amazing for a guy who has only been hurdling for less than six months!
NJ TOP 10 AUTO TIMES IN THE 110-METER HURDLES