After winning the Division 4 state championship two years ago, and with a large group of athletes returning from last year’s team that placed second in the state, one would think the Pewamo-Westphalia girls track team would be a main contender for this year’s Division 4 state title.

The Pirates, however, have no chance to win the Division 4 state title this season, as they have been moved up to Division 3.

Despite going up in class, the Pewamo-Westphalia girls will still be in the mix to win a state title come June.

“We have 20 state finalists returning from last year,” said coach Scott Werner. “We bring back a lot of experience. We have a lot of depth and a lot of talent back. We were runner-up at the state meet last year and we scored 81 points. As far as track and field goes, 81 points at the state meet is quite the feat. There are many years when the state champion scores in the 30s.”

The Pirates have a number of talented athletes returning, paced by a trio of athletes who can stack up against any in the state.

Senior Kirstie Wieber is back for her senior year and is looking to win her fourth straight state championship in the pole vault. Wieber has a career best of 12’1″ in the pole vault and holds the Division 4 state record. She also competed in the indoor nationals during the off-season and competed at the Emerging Elite Invitational in Boston which had the top high school pole vaulters in the country.

On the track, the Pirates have one of the premier runners in the state in senior Rachel Schmitt. Schmitt is an 11-time all-stater who has competed in 12 different events at the state finals in her first three years of high school track.

Kirstie’s younger sister, sophomore Kenzie Wieber, is another talented and versatile athlete. Kenzie earned all-state honors in four different events last year, including the pole vault.

“We have a total of 20 state finalists returning, which makes for a pretty deep team,” Werner said. “But these three kids are really special kids. I expect them to all be all-state kids again.”

The Pirates have already started the season strong, with a number of big efforts including a dual-meet victory over Fowler, last year’s Division 4 state champion.

Despite moving up to Division 3, the Pirates will be in position to bring home a state title.

“We have a chance to win Division 3 despite being one of the two or three smallest schools,” Werner said. “Frankenmuth and Benzie Central are both long-time Division 3 powers, and they are both outstanding again this year. I think we can compete with them, and it should come down to the three of us at state.”