BOZEMAN — Cole Snider says when it comes to his training, he likes to load up a backpack and run hills.
Snider is a cowboy at Montana Western, and he said he trains that way because to him, riding horses is a mental game.
"It’s about building mental strength to keep going when you’ve got nothing left,” he said, as the short go of the Montana State spring rodeo came to a close Saturday night.
Snider earned his first collegiate rodeo championship belt buckle in bareback at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, following his 74 score Thursday with a 73 to lead off the third night of the rodeo. His 147 points edged teammate Tristan Hansen’s 144 in second.
His horse began with short strides, getting stronger as the ride went on. Snider completed his eight seconds before flipping into the dirt and on top of the leaderboard as the the next nine cowboys made attempts at usurping his score.
“Right now I’m looking back on everything that’s gone wrong," he said after the win. "Every horse I bucked off, every mistake, everything that hurt, and I’m just thankful for that right now."
But he added he’s not going to reflect for too long.
“It’s a fulfilling thing, but it’s always a stepping stone. This is another bullet in the gun that I’m shooting.”
Western was represented with four cowboys in bareback. On Friday night, it was Hansen who said he couldn’t be more proud of Snider and his improvement.
Saturday night, with buckle in hand, Snider shifted that praise back to Hansen and the rest of his Western teammates.
“It’s so much better to go through it with a group of guys like this,” Snider said. “Guys that have credentials and ride in the pros. … It’s been a long time coming to get to a place like this, and I wouldn’t be anywhere without Tristan.”
A fellow Bulldog picked up a championship in breakway roping, with Jamie Baker netting a 2.8 time to go along with her 2.5 from the first round for the MSU spring rodeo title.
Baker was one of six Montana Western women competing in the short round. Her time edged that of Tess Turk, who added to her 3.1 time from Thursday with a 2.9 run Saturday night.
For Montana State-Northern, Zane Marcenko got his steer down in 7.1 seconds as the final bulldogger of the short round to pick up the title.
Marcenko entered Saturday with the fastest time over Montana State’s Will Powell, who sits second overall in the Big Sky Region all-around standings.
Powell had a rough go Saturday, failing to record a time in both the steer wrestling and tiedown short rounds. He missed his steer off the horse in wrestling, and his rope got away from him in an early shot attempt in tiedown.
Northwest College’s Caleb McMillian, the all-around points leader in the region, competed in three short round events, earning points in all three and taking the buckle in bullriding. McMillian entered Saturday’s bullriding field with 70 points from Thursday, trailing Montana Western’s Ruger Piva with 82.
Piva, who placed second at nationals last year and is ranked on the pro level, got an awkward start in his Saturday night run and was ejected from the bull early. McMillian scored a 64 on Saturday to take the title.
The Montana State spring Rodeo concludes Sunday, though it will be scored as an entirely separate rodeo. The teams will have four more rodeos this spring season, with their cumulative scores between the fall and spring sessions going toward a potential bid to the College National Finals Rodeo in June.