Jerry Ballas/Northeast Conference Fifth-year Evan Sitts finished with a score of 216/even to par, which earned him a tied for fifth place finish and a spot on the all-tournament team at the NEC championships over the weekend.

In its inaugural season as a member of the Northeast Conference (NEC), the Binghamton golf team finished in fifth place out of 11 teams with a score of 900/36 over par at the conference championships in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

“It was a success without a doubt,” said Binghamton head coach Bernie Herceg. “It wasn’t something where we finish toward the bottom half or anything. The guys fought hard and kind of tried to prove where they’re at.”

After round one, the Bearcats found themselves in a tie for fifth place. The top performer for the Bearcats on day one was junior Ryan Millevoi, who sat in a tie for eighth place after shooting 71/1 under par. Fifth-year Evan Sitts was seven places behind in a tie for 16th place with a score of 74/2 over par. Sophomore Brandon Conner shot a 78/6 over par, sophomore Sean Shen shot 77/5 over par and sophomore Harrison Blech shot 80/8 over par to round out Binghamton’s performances on the first day.

“It was a great round for [Millevoi], and it helped us maintain our place,” Herceg said. “In the past, even when we were out in the Big Sky, it seems like round one was always tough for us. We’d kind of shoot ourselves in the foot. But having that under-par round he had was awesome.”

On day two, Binghamton rose into a tie for fourth place with notable improvements across the field. Sitts shot 71/1 under par in round 2 to break into the tournament’s top 10 in a tie for ninth place. Meanwhile, Millevoi slid to just one stroke out of the top 10 with a score of 75/3 over par to tie for 11th on the day while Belch’s same score helped the Bearcat make a 14-spot improvement to join the top 30 in a tie for 30th. Locked into a tie for 33rd with respective scorecards of 78/6 over par and 79/7 over par after day two were Conner and Shen.

“We hit the range after [round one] to work on a few things and get some more confidence, and the next day [Belch] putted a lot better, but he also struck the ball a lot better,” Herceg said. “He had more confidence in the ball flight than he was having. It made a big difference, and then he brought it into day three.”

With one final round slated for day two, Sitts made it one to remember as he closed the book on his collegiate career with a consecutive 71/1 under-par score to improve to a tie for fifth overall. Sliding back into a tie for 20th was Millevoi, who shot a 79/7 over par in the final round, while a 73/1 over par outing from Belch propelled him into 24th place. Also dropping in the final tally were Conner and Shen, shooting a 78/6 over par and an 81/11 under par for respective ties for 34th and 36th. At the tournament’s end, Binghamton finished back in fifth with a team score of 900/13 over par.

“I was with Sitts basically for a good 10 of the holes,” Herceg said. “I told the guys I’m going to be with him probably most of the round just to see his last one. It was great to really witness everything and help him as much as I can to finish strong.”

With the 2023-24 season wrapped up, the Bearcats’ transition to the NEC has been an immediate success. After finishing in last at the 2023 Big Sky Tournament, Binghamton finished comfortably in the top half of this year’s NEC tournament. This accomplishment was capped off with all-conference honors for the graduating Sitts. With success in this new conference and promising results from his underclassmen, Herceg expressed that the team will take this offseason to continue to grow their game.

“We just threw away too many strokes,” Herceg said. “We just didn’t execute as well as we could and that’s what these younger guys are learning. While you prepare to go into a tournament just having the mental part of the game ready to go too, and I think this year was a big help. I think going in [to next year] our mental game is going to be that much stronger and I know physically their games are going to get better, so that’s what I’m really excited about.”