At first, moving up in class was a bit intimidating for Lyndsey Getchell, going from Advanced Walk Trot Canter to the Novice division after qualifying for regionals in the spring at UMass Dartmouth equestrian’s home IHSA competition.

She’ll still compete in the Advanced division in the regionals, but Getchell will compete in the Novice division until that time. In her first chance, she didn’t place, but on Saturday at the University of Rhode Island IHSA show in Glades Ferry, Conn., she finished sixth overall, taking a big step in the right direction.

The biggest difference between the Advanced and Novices classes is horses jump in the latter. That may not seem like a huge difference at first, but it has a significant effect on how riders approach the event.

“When you’re just flatting, you’re pretty much just concerned with regulating your speed and keeping the horse collected,” Getchell said. “When you’re jumping you have to count your strides and pretty much focus on more. Just the actual jumping creates more things to worry about.”

The Dartmouth native will likely not move up another class, something that’s not easy to do in one season. But she only has one more stop level between her and the Open Flat level, something UMD equestrian coach Mary Charette believes the sophomore can reach by the end of her career. The main reason: The relationships she has with the horses.

“(Getchell) never blames the horse for any bad ride or any bad draw or if she had a bad day,” she said. “She’s very sympathetic towards the animal. And she’s always quick to say, ‘What can I do better’ or ‘I did this (wrong)’. Something like that where she takes the blame if something doesn’t go right. And when something does go well she always credits the horse first.

“She’s a horsewoman first and a rider second, which is what you want. A lot of these riders forget these horses are animals and not machines. And animals can have a bad day like a person can have a bad day. … I gear my whole team towards that, but I’ve never had to remind her of that, she’s always a horsewoman.”

It might seem like competing for the UMD equestrian team was a no-brainer for Getchell, but she was actually considering a different sport for UMD. It wasn’t until one of her teachers at Dartmouth High, Morgan Bozarth, nudged her in the right direction.

“I originally got recruited for field hockey ... but (Bozarth) was a grad student there and was on the equestrian team a few years ago,” Getchell said. “And she was the one who told me about it. When I looked into it, I was more interested in it than field hockey, so I chose that.

“I had a couple of options, but I went with UMass because I’m a digital media major and they have a good art program and they’re close to home,” Getchell said. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go away or not, but after looking into the school it seemed like the right fit for me.”

Hard to argue with her decision given the results.

New Bedford native earns LEC honors

For the first time since Ben Girard won the award in 2011, UMD Cross Country had a New Bedford native earn the Little East Conference Rookie Runner of the Year award. Bruno Pires was selected as the Men’s Rookie Runner of the Year by the coaches in the conference, after finishing first among freshman, sixth overall, at the LEC Championship and being the Corsairs’ top finisher in four of five regular season races.

Field hockey finishes with four LEC award winners

The Corsairs had four seniors earn All-Little East Conference honors after finishing 6-5 in conference play (9-10 overall). Midfielder Erin Kish earned First Team honors and defender Haley Donahay was Second Team. They were joined by Delaney Burns and Allison Burke, who earned Honorable Mention at forward and goalkeeper, respectively. This also marked the first time each of the seniors garnered All-LEC awards.

Football saves best for last

Two weeks ago the Corsairs were coming off a tough month of October, losing all four games. Faced with two more before the season’s end, the Corsairs won convincingly against Mass. Maritime and then followed that up with a 38-0 blowout over Fitchburg State Saturday.

With the win, UMD finishes the regular season with an even 4-4 record in the conference (4-6 overall).

Quarterback Jace Pena had another big day, throwing for four touchdowns and 234 yards on 14-of-28 passing. He found Abbi Bamgbose for two scores, connecting with his receiver six times for 79 yards. Pena also hooked up with Leroy Brown for a 56-yard score and Adam McLaughlin on a 29-yard score.

Michael Slaughter Jr. finished with 144 yards on 28 carries and a TD.

Pena finishes the season with 14 touchdowns in nine games, averaging 140.4 yards per game. However, Pena wasn’t as much of a factor until Game 5, and he also missed the majority of UMD’s seventh game of the year. Of his 1,264 yards through the air this season, 1,173 came in five games. Also, 10 of his 14 touchdowns came in those five contests.

Slaughter finished the year with 954 yards and six touchdowns in nine games, both career highs. He finished with more than 100 yards rushing in six of the nine games he played in. Pena was named the MASCAC Offensive Player of the Week. UMD kicker James Tooker also earned MASCAC Special Teams Player of the Week after going 5-for-5 on PATs and drilling his one field goal attempt, a 31-yarder.

Follow Nick Friar on Twitter @Nick_Friar.