Ugoh's Track Career Ends On Downer

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Tony Ugoh's two-sport career is over.

Ugoh, a junior starter at left tackle for the football team, finished his track career by taking 30th in the discus Friday at the NCAA Mideast Regional

Ugoh will be a senior next season but will likely have a shot at the NFL either via the draft or free agency to keep him busy in the spring.

A highly touted recruit out of Houston, Ugoh chose the Hogs over Oklahoma in large part because football coach Houston Nutt agreed to let him continue his throwing career.

Unlike Ahmad Carroll, Arkansas' last two-sport athlete for whom Nutt's flexibility was a decisive factor in choosing the Razorbacks, Ugoh's track days never took off.

By his sophomore year, Carroll, a two-time All-Southeastern Conference cornerback drafted in the first round in 2004 by Green Bay, was an All-American in both the 100 and 200 meters and the only athlete at the 2003 NCAA Championships to do so.

Ugoh's best finish at any SEC track meet was seventh in the weight throw at the 2005 Indoor with a school-record toss of 60 feet, 4.5 inches.

Ugoh made the regionals with a personal-best discus throw of 172 feet, 11 inches, but he wasn't close to that either at the SEC Outdoor two weeks ago or Friday when he threw 151-2.

Part of Ugoh's difficulty in improving was his event itself. The discus is a highly technical event and he never had the time to work on it in the fall.

He participated in just two indoor meets, improving six feet from the Tyson Invitational to the SECs before missing all of spring football to focus on track.

Freshman sprinter Michael Grant, who plays cornerback for the football team, made it to a few spring football workouts and also helped the 4x100-meter relay take sixth at the SEC Outdoor.

Grant, a state champion from Georgia who defeated Carroll in high school, has lowered his personal best in the 100 from 10.57 to 10.41 this season in his first year under coach Lance Brauman, whose first season at Arkansas coincided with Carroll's sophomore season.

The worst attempt at flight ever attempted it wasn't, but a tourism stunt at the Mideast Regional on Friday was plenty embarrassing.

Around 30 minutes before the meet was scheduled to kick off, workers started inflating a hot air balloon just off the final turn at Billy Hayes Track.

Tied down to a van by a single mooring, the balloon slowly filled, revealing cute little arms of a stick figure protruding from either side.

Dragging its basket and the occupants to and fro, the balloon rocked back and forth bouncing between a light pole and a grove of trees standing nearby.

Appropriately inscribed with the words "Breakaway Bloomington -- Come out and Play", the balloon took a large gash after one particularly rough brush against the tree branches.

With the cloth around the square-shaped hole flapping, the balloon started collapsing against the light pole and the workers desperately fired the burner trying to keep it upright as they were drug along clutching to the basket or jumping in to provide extra weight.

Finally conceding defeat just before the meet was to begin, the workers started taking the balloon down, but not before one of them fired the burner directly into the grass near the feet of the other workers.

The balloon crew probably ended up glad they didn't get up in the air. Thirteen minutes after the meet got under way, a heavy but brief downpour hammered the track.

One Razorback picked up his 59th district award on Friday, another earned his first.

Coach John McDonnell was named the South Central District Coach of the Year after Arkansas won its 76th conference title at the Southeastern Conference Championships on May 15.

Sophomore Peter Kosgei, an unknown transfer from Harding University just a few months ago, followed up his All-American runner-up finish in the 3,000 at the NCAA Indoor Championships by winning two events at the SEC meet in Nashville.

Kosgei was named the District's Athlete of the Year after his wins in the steeplechase and 5,000 meters and his third in the 1,500. Kosgei scored 26 points for the Razorbacks to earn Commissioner's Trophy honors as the meet's high-point scorer.

Kosgei will be the first Razorback since Daniel Lincoln in 2003 to attempt the 10,000-steeplechase double at the NCAA Championships and could have a shot to repeat what Lincoln did for the first time in collegiate history -- win both.

If anyone has a right to dislike the regionals, it is Louisiana Tech senior Shandra Freeman.

Last year, Freeman was one of the four athletes from the Mideast Regional who were disqualified from the national championships after meet referee John Chaplin erroneously awarded them medical waivers.

Freeman's time of 11.45 in the 100 prelims was negated and it would have been good enough to earn an at-large bid to the NCAAs under last year's rules.

On Friday, Freeman led off the Lady Techsters' 4x100-meter relay team that won its heat to earn an automatic berth in the finals today.

After the race, Louisiana Tech was disqualified for leaving its zone because third leg Nina Gilbert knocked the baton away from Alabama-Birmingham after Gilbert threw her hands up to urge anchor leg Latonia Wilson down the homestretch.

The encouragement may have helped, but the result was Freeman's second disqualification in two years.

Adding insult to injury, Freeman was the first woman out of the finals in the 100 with her 11.76 behind two others at 11.72.

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