The Hays High track and field team saw a handful of underclassmen turn in breakthrough performances at regionals to punch their tickets to state.

The Indians will now look to use this weekend’s experience as a stepping stone for future success.

Hays High is sending eight athletes to the State Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Wichita, with seven making their state debut.

“You just keep telling them that this is going to be an experience like they’ve never had before, so soak it in and enjoy it,” said Hays High coach Tony Crough. “This is something that not many kids get to do, so I want them to enjoy it.

“In the years coming up, I want this to be an expectation. But as for now, we want these kids to experience it and we want them to come back and tell everybody else about it and we can start making it a dream and reality for the rest of the team.”

The Indians qualified one senior, one junior, three sophomores and three freshmen.

Hays High will have four boys in field events — freshman Gavin Meyers in the javelin, sophomore Tucker Veach in the pole vault, freshman Roy Moroni in the high jump and sophomore Kyler Beckman in the triple jump.

Junior Da’Vontai Robinson qualified in the 300-meter hurdles.

On the girls side, sophomore Brooklyn Schaffer will compete in the 300-meter hurdles after taking second at regionals with a time of 48.56. Schaffer is the lone Indian with previous state experience after qualifying last year.

Freshman Landri Dotts will compete in the 3,200-meter run and senior Logan Harris will be taking part in the shot put.

“We had some young kids really step up,” Crough said. “Most of the kids we’re taking are pretty young.

“I think it was pretty cool to see some of those kids have some success, even though they weren’t necessarily kids we were counting on to make it to state.”

The Indians enjoyed strong numbers this year, with about 125 total kids out for track and field.

“We had a bunch of kids out,” Crough said. “It was a good building year. It’s just nice to see a bunch of kids out there getting better, which is what track is about. Everybody, no matter what your sport, if you’re not playing another sport in the spring, you can come out and improve yourself for your sport.”