GIBSON CITY -- Last year, the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School girls golf team was a few spots away from going to state.
The Falcons ended their season with a team score of 447 at last October's IHSA Class 1A Williamsville Sectional, good enough for 10th place. Macomb, which earned the third team state-qualifying spot, shot a 381.
"We came so close with sectionals last year," GCMS head coach Ann Spangler said.
The sectional outing was delayed by over an hour by a thunderstorm.
"That took the wind out of our sales," Spangler said. "It was an enormous thunderstorm, but this year, we're feeling fierce."
Shannon Spangler and Megan Moody each shot a 98 to lead GCMS. They were both six strokes behind Taylorville's Miranda Coy, who took the last advancing individual spot. Katie Kamman shot a 119.
"They have been practicing extremely well this week," Ann Spangler said. "They've all played some tournaments this summer, honed their game a little bit, and so there's a lot of promise. We're really looking for Shannon and Megan to lead the charge for the rest of the team."
Abby Spiller, who also returns for her senior year alongside Shannon Spangler and Moody, scored a 132 to contribute to the Falcons' final score at sectionals.
"Abby Spiller took some lessons this summer, and we're hoping to see a lot of good stuff out of her," Ann Spangler said.
Hattie Parsons (135) and Sydney Funk (137) also participated in the sectional for the Falcons. Both will return for their senior season as well, along with walk-on senior Gabby Dammkoehler.
"Sydney Funk is hitting some wonderful, consistent shots. Katie Johnson's putting looks really good," Ann Spangler said.
Parsons has been injured, so her return may be delayed.
"We're hoping that, with a little more rest time, we'll have her back in a couple of weeks. Hattie's always been a consistent, middle-team player for us, and we're hoping she'll be back soon," Ann Spangler said.
The Falcons will start their 2018 season Monday at the Blue Ridge Invite in Farmer City. They will host LeRoy next Wednesday before participating in the Bloomington Invite at Highland Park in Bloomington.
"We are excited about the season," Ann Spangler said. "We have all these wonderful returning seniors. We'll just have to see how things unfold and develop."
The Falcons have eight regular-season meets scheduled at Railside Golf Club in Gibson City, including a date with Williamsville Sectional-champion St. Thomas More on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
"We have a lot of home matches this year, which should be to our advantage because the girls are very familiar with the course," Ann Spangler said. "We're looking forward to hosting all the teams who are here, particularly St. Thomas More because they always bring a really good, strong team that challenges us, so that'll be a fun match."