PROVO — When senior Josh Rohatinsky ends his collegiate cross country career at BYU later this month, he'll have a lot to look back on and remember with pride.

The Provo High product was named Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2000 and has gone on to capture a pair of All-American honors. Based on his dominating performance so far this season, seems a lock to get a third nod this year.

But Rohatinsky isn't one given to dwelling on the past, no matter how golden it is. As his collegiate career draws to an end, his mind is on what's left this season and what comes after.

"Honestly, most of what's been going on this season has been looking forward to what I'm going to do afterwards," Rohatinsky said. "I haven't spent any time looking back."

The where is a little bit fuzzy, but the what is clear: parlay his success on the collegiate course to a career in running.

"I don't know exactly where I want to go, but I definitely want to go somewhere like Colorado or California, sign with a shoe company and just see how well I can do on the professional circuit," he said.

NCAA rules won't let him have any contact with companies while still a student athlete, which isn't a problem, since Rohatinsky is still dedicated to the business at hand: this week's Mountain region meet in Albuquerque and then the NCAA Championships in Indiana just nine days later.

The region meet is a tricky challenge; the team must do well enough to secure a spot in the NCAA meet but still leave enough gas in the tank to do well when it really counts.

BYU men's cross country coach Ed Eyestone said Rohatinsky could have easily won last year's regional meet but wisely held back and settle for third. At the NCAA meet less than two weeks later, he handily beat both runners who had finished ahead of him and went on to finish sixth.

The sixth-place finish was a marked improvement over his 22nd-place finish the year before, and Rohatinsky said his goal is to do even better this year.

"As far as nationals go, you just want to do better than you did the year before — there's a handful of guys this year who could win it, so I just want to go out there and hopefully be one of those guys," he said.

Rohatinsky missed a chance to compete against two of those top runners when soreness in his leg made him a last-second scratch at the Pre-National Meet last month.

"It was a big disappointment — but because of my leg, it was the right decision," he said.

It wasn't easy for Rohatinsky to watch one of the biggest meets of the year from the sidelines. Eyestone said natural ability gave Rohatinsky a head start but credited his competitive nature for helping him become the athlete he is now.

"(Rohatinsky) is intense and has a fighting spirit and competitive nature," Eyestone said. "He's competitive whether we're playing ping pong, bacci ball or basketball."

Eyestone said coaching an athlete with such a mixture of ability and drive has been a "privilege" and said Rohatinsky's leadership on the team the last few years at BYU has made all the difference.

"The guys know when they go into a race that he's going to be up front, battling with the big boys,' Eyestone said. "It's nice knowing that you have a top gun out there, because it encourages the others and let's them know that if they run well and solid, then the team knows it can win."


E-mail: jtwitchell@desnews.com