Athlete of the week: Jordan Rykal, Rogers, golf: High standards

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

They’ve got high standards for at Rogers High School. Jordan Rykal is one of the prime examples.

“You couldn’t ask for a better role model for the program,” said Royal coach Dan Bursheim about Rykal, whose career ended Wednesday at his third state tournament.

Not to mention a pretty good player, too. The 5-foot-9, 145-pound Rykal averaged 78 for his four-year career, including 75.8 this year, made all-conference four times, and tied for 10th at state his junior year.

Jordan Rykal is a four-time all-conference player and helped his team place second, first, and fourth in three state tournaments. (Photo by Erik Jacobson)

He is one of the reasons golf has been RHS’s most successful sport  with three consecutivehigh finishes at state — second, tied for first, and fourth — and 30 straight conference victories.

“It’s been sweet,” Rykal reflected. “It helps you play better with teammates like that. We really push each other.”

Even with two players gone on to D-I teams,  Rykal said the current team was “capable of being as strong as we’ve ever been. We broke the school record with a 286, which I think says a lot about that.”

Bursheim cites Rykal as “an insightful leader, continuing the standard we have set for the typical Royal golfer.”

Playing with three other all-state, recruited golfers (Colton and Mac Buege, Corey Muenzhuber) in his career has “sometimes left Jordan a little overshadowed,” said the coach, ” but  he has amassed an impressive high school record.”

Rykal can list some giddy career highlights. At state last year, he shot 73 on the second day to help the Royals tie for the team crown and earn a 10th place tie for himself with 149. His career-low 68 at Wild March in Buffalo on May 10  led  his team in breaking the team record. Last summer, he shot 69 at a state qualifier for the State Open, earning a spot in that prestigious tournament. He won six high school tournaments, two this year.

Rykal averaged 79.8, 79.4, and 77.3 his first three seasons. In the program, his five career eagles is tied for first and his 117  birdies ranks third.

Rykal started golf at age four with his dad, Jason, as his coach throughout childhood. He played baseball, football and basketball, too, but hey all fell away as golf became his singular passion. “I played basketball through 10th grade but then I started playing golf and taking lessons in the winter,” he said.

Rykal drives in the 315 to 320 range. He’s been striking his irons and wedges particularly this year, and his putting has been solid, 29 to 30 per round.

At state this week, Rykal was off his game the first day and shot 82, then battled back with a 74 Wednesday to move up 23 places to 27th with 155, in his last day as a Royal. He’ll continue as a team golfer with University of South Dakota, a Division I program, next year.

Next week, he’ll have a dream vacation: “I’ll be  playing Pebble Beach (Californi),” he said. “My grandpa gave me a trip for graduation!”



Jordan Rykal

Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Jason Rykal, Rachel Rohloff; sister Alexis, 20 … Sport: golf … Other activities: Peer mediation … Academics: 2.8 GPA … College: University of South Dakota, golf, major undecided

Favorite stuff — Classes: creative writing, government … TV shows: Sports Center, Workaholics … Movie: Happy Gilmore … Reading: Golf Digest, MN Golf … Food: Chipotle fare, especially chicken burrito … Drink: cherry coke … Team: Packers … Athlete: Zach Johnson … Kickback activity: “Golf, of course! I also snowboard a little in the winter.” … Would like to visit: Pebble Beach in California (and will soon)