Warren De La Salle boys golf celebrates a successful showing at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 state finals on June 8 at Bedford Valley, placing fifth.

Warren De La Salle boys golf celebrates a successful showing at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 state finals on June 8 at Bedford Valley, placing fifth.

Photos courtesy of Doug McKay

DLS golf has eyes on prize in 2025

Nguyen earns highest state placement for Pilots golfer since 2006

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Warren Weekly | Published July 9, 2024


WARREN — They might not have walked out as state champions, but there will be plenty of eyes on Warren De La Salle Collegiate golf after its state finals showing this year.

De La Salle has continuously improved over the past three seasons in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 state finals, finishing 16th in 2022 to climb all the way up to fifth on June 8 at Bedford Valley behind the performance of sophomore Troy Nguyen.

Nguyen shot a 71 and 72 respectively over the course of the two-day tournament to finish third overall out of 108 golfers, earning the highest state finals placement for a Pilots golfer since Zak Kozuchowski took state runner-up in 2006.

Nguyen credited his work on the green as the key to his success over the weekend.

“(It was) My putting 100 percent,” Nguyen said. “My driver was off the entire weekend going a lot shorter than usual, but I had my putter to save me out of a lot of situations. On my first day, I had so many clutch par and birdie putts to eventually secure my one-under round.”

Nguyen caught eyes early as a freshman sensation for the Pilots in 2023 and only continued to elevate his game en route to earning MHSAA all-state “Super Team” honors this year.

Alongside Nguyen, freshman Julian Sinishtaj earned first team all-state designation after placing 13th overall in the state finals with a two-day score of 152 (72 & 80).

Both are expected to be leaders, and the future of De La Salle golf. Head coach Doug McKay said their growth this year took place from a personal perspective.

“Troy (Nguyen) came as a well-known junior player throughout the state and parts of the country, but that was all individual,” McKay said. “It took, and I tried to explain this to Julian (Sinishtaj) this year, how it even took Troy a year to figure out what high school golf was all about. The blend of the individual becoming a team player, meaning if they screw up that it’s not only affecting them but also four other guys it’s affecting as well. He got stronger, he practiced as hard as anybody, and he learned high school golf. That was the difference. Blending the individuality into a team concept is not easy to do.”

Coaching De La Salle since 1993, McKay has seen his fair share of state finals tournaments, 27 to be exact, but had never explored the landscape of Bedford Valley.

In efforts to prepare for the unknown, McKay entered his team for a tournament at Bedford Valley where the Pilots would beat out Rochester Adams, which took third at states.

“I had no notes on Bedford (Valley),” McKay said. “None. I couldn’t believe it. Twenty seven state finals and we’d never been to Bedford. We went up there and played in the tournament, and we played well. I think we shot 302 or something and beat (Rochester) Adams by one. We took notes and we played smart. Bedford is old school with tree lines and doglegs right and left. It played hard, but it was hard for all 18 teams.”

De La Salle junior Max Teschendorf, competing in his third state finals, finished 38th overall with a two-day score of 159 while senior Colton Fuqua (167) and junior Joseph Finazzo (179) rounded out the scores.

Progression continues to shine through for De La Salle, defending their Macomb County Championship title this season and moving one step closer to possibly hoisting the first state title in school history.

The Pilots have the talent to challenge their Catholic High School League rival Detroit Catholic Central, which took home the Division 1 state championship this year, and anyone affiliated with the CHSL knows only the strongest can survive the league and everyone comes out battle tested for states.

With next year in mind, McKay said the top spot in Division 1 could have his team’s name on it.

“You could make that argument,” McKay said. “We never take anything for granted. We will work harder come fall and during the winter. We talked about after the first day of the state finals how we were right there until three or four of the kids made double bogey or bogey on the last hole and we fell out of second into fourth by one shot. At dinner, we talked about what a good team we are.”

If McKay learned anything this year, it’s a new form of coaching he plans to implement more often in 2025 with his young guns and how they carry themselves.

“The looser I coached, the better we were with better scores,” McKay said. “I adapted to that. From the three-quarter on, we played the best golf we played, and we played loose. Julian (Sinishtaj) brings a lot to that. He’s a freshman and is a breath of fresh air, and he just loves to mingle with all the other kids. A good thing about having Julian, Troy (Nguyen), and Max (Teschendorf) is that they can challenge each other during the year and strive to be number one.”

They may not have been seen as a threat the past few years, but don’t count out De La Salle next year as one of the teams to beat in Division 1 golf.