Rocky Mountain College will be represented by a band of buddies this week at the NAIA women's golf championships in Lincoln, Neb.
Four of the six players who will be with the Battlin' Bears' contingent at Wilderness Ridge Golf Club are longtime friends, former teammates or high school rivals from throughout the Eastern A.
Rocky's starting scorecard at nationals will include senior Katy Peterson, 22, of Glendive, sophomore Kyla Clancy, 20, of Billings Central and sophomore McKenzie Webinger, 19, of Laurel.
Junior Chere Anderson, 22, of Billings Central is an alternate, while Rocky's all-Montana starting lineup will also feature seniors Margo Salsbery of Forsyth and Allie Sauvageau of Three Forks.
"It's really comforting," Clancy said of being surrounded by all of the familiar faces. "We have a little bit better team chemistry than a lot of other teams do because we're all from the same area."
The 27-team, 144-player national tournament will begin on Tuesday and run through Friday. Rocky is ranked 15th nationally.
"It's been a lot of fun to be able to experience this with them," Webinger said of her teammates.
Webinger and Clancy were State A tournament medalists as prep players. Clancy and Anderson also starred on three consecutive State A championship teams for the Rams.
"It has been pretty awesome for our mental game to have everyone together, just to bounce things off each other in terms of support," Anderson said. "We do have struggles, but we do have our triumphs, too. Together we just become victorious as one."
Besides accolades and friendship, the group also possesses a lot of fortitude, according to Webinger.
"I don't think very many teams have played in 60 mile-per-hour wind, snow and rain so that will be a good advantage when we go there," she said of the Bears' toughness.
Rocky's highest finish ever at nationals is a tie for third in South Bend, Ind., in 2005. The Bears are shooting to be in the top five this time around.
"If we go into it with the right mindset we're going to go low -- and we want to," Clancy said. "We want to show these big teams that are from the south and from the east coast that even though we're from Montana we can still come in and kick some butt."
SCAD of Savannah, Ga., is ranked No. 1. The reigning national champion is Oklahoma City.