The Melissa High School Robotics team has qualified to compete in the UIL State Tournament for a third-straight year. The team, coached by Rick Gagarin, punched its ticket to state with a regional runner-up finish at the Collin County BEST Robotics tournament at Ereckson Middle School in Allen last month.

“This is the best finish the Melissa Robotics team has had,” Gagarin said. “The team as a whole really shined during the entire competition. I’m really hoping that a third time will be a charm for them at state. These kids work hard and deserve to hopefully place high at state this year.”

Melissa robot drivers Zach Butterfield, Tyler King, Micah Berger, Blaise Nkeme, Daniel Call and Matt Tieney competed against 30 schools at Allen. The team developed new strategies and incorporated changes to their robot as they moved up through the Top 10 spots and on to tournament runner-up in the finals.

The state tournament is slated for Dec. 5-7 at Frisco’s Comerica Center.

BEST Robotics, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in the early 90s to inspire middle and high school students to prepare for entering the technological workforce. BEST stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology.