FAIRMONT — It’s official.
Jesse Walters was named the Fairmont Cardinals’ head track & field coach when the school board approved the motion during Tuesday’s meeting.
“Jesse is a home grown guy,” Fairmont activities director Mat Mahoney said. “He helped the 2008 (boys track & field) team win a state championship under coach (Bob) Bonk. He takes such pride in the school and the community. The kids will trust him.”
The 33-year-old Walters replaces Bob Bonk, who retired earlier this summer. Bonk spent more than 50 years coaching the boys and girls spring programs.
Walters was one of Bonk’s assistant track & field coaches since 2017 when he moved back to Fairmont from the Minneapolis area.
Walters ran track under Bonk from 2005-2008. The 2008 Fairmont squad won the Minnesota State High School League’s Class A state team championship when Walters was a senior.
Fairmont finished with 52 points, followed by Glencoe-Silver Lake with 33 and St. Croix Lutheran with 32.
“Jesse and I would spend hours between meetings talking track,” Bonk said. “I’m very excited for him and I think he’ll do a great job.”
Walters was a member of Fairmont’s 4×400 and 4×800 teams which posted the second- and sixth-best times in school history, running 3:22 and 8:08, respectively.
“He always embraced being a track athlete, whether in high school or college,” Bonk said. “He has a lot of experience in the sport. He is such a nice person, too.”
“I want to continue the Fairmont 50-year tradition coach Bonk instilled in this program and continue Fairmont’s 50-year success from coach Bonk,” Walters said. “I will put some new spins on the program. I learned a lot about family from coach Bonk. I want to instill being part of a family with the kids when I’m the new head coach. Coach Bonk taught me a lot about being part of a family and I hope I can do the same with my track kids.”
Walters is the hometown athlete who ran track at Fairmont High School, graduating in 2008 and ran sprints for the University of Wisconsin-River Falls from 2009-2012. He was a 2009 and 2011 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Scholastic honor roll member, as well as a 2010 and 2011 all-WIAC Indoor all-sportsmanship team member.
“I did whatever the coach asked,” Walters said.
As a collegiate, Walters ran the 100-meter dash in 11.7 seconds, the 200 in 23.66 and the 400-meter run in 51.39.
Walters earned an environmental science degree at UW-River Falls and now works for Martin Soil and Water Conservation District, assisting land owners in increasing the productive use of cropland, pastureland, woodland and urban land while maintaining the soils base, water quality, tree production and wildlife production, according to the Martin SWCD website.
Walters has been involved with football and track & field since taking up the sports in high school.
Move the clock up more than a decade and Walters is coaching junior varsity football in the fall, as well as track & field at his alma mater in the spring.
Walters and his wife Krysten have an 18-month-old son, Chase, and are expecting their second child this month.
“I hope my kids are a part of my track & field program here at Fairmont,” Walters said. “I give a lot of credit to coach Bonk.
“Coaching track is something I love and I’m anxious for the season to start.”