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5 to Watch: Gold for NJ's English Gardner, NJ's Jordan Burroughs Loses Golden Dream, US Water Polo Is Golden

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From one of wrestling's biggest stars failing to defend his gold, let alone get a medal, to a Princeton student leading her water polo team to gold to a controversial relay gold for a South Jersey native, here's what to watch Friday in Rio.

DON'T MISS THE ACTION: For a complete rundown of all the day's events in Rio, visit the streaming schedule page for Watch every event of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games live there, on the NBC Sports App and connected set-top boxes and catch the highlights in primetime on NBC.

New Jersey's Jordan Burroughs' Quest for Back-to-Back Gold Falls on the Mat

Before winning a gold medal at the 2012 Games, Sicklerville, New Jersey’s Jordan Burroughs had one of the most dominant collegiate wrestling careers ever at the University of Nebraska, compiling undefeated records in 2009 and 2011 en route to NCAA national championships. In 2011, Burroughs became just the fourth wrestler ever to win an NCAA championship and a world title in the same year. He opened his international career with 69 straight victories, a record unmatched in U.S. wrestling history, and entered the Olympics with a 124-2 career record. [[390726071, C]]

He would lose as many matches in five hours in Rio as he had lost in the past five years.

After his gold in London, Burroughs became an outspoken advocate for keeping wrestling in the Olympics. When the International Olympic Committee announced that it would cut wrestling from the Olympic roster in 2020, Burroughs spoke out on Twitter, raising awareness of the decision, and he has said that he hopes a win for him in Rio will help ensure the sport’s Olympic future.

"Hard work can really overcome any obstacle. Any type of adversity, any lack of talent, lack of opportunity," Burroughs said. "Perseverance helped me reach this level."

Burroughs entered the tournament as the world's top-ranked wrestler in the weight class and easily won his first bout in the 163-pound division against Guinea-Bissau’s Augusto Midana 8-3. But the draw meant he would face Russia's Aniuar Geduev, ranked No. 2 and his fiercest rival, in just his second match. [[390473461, C]]

Geduev got out to a 3-0 lead and held on for a 3-2 win.

Burroughs still got a shot bronze fighting in the repechage since Geduev moved into the gold medal fight. But, Burroughs struggled against Uzbekistan's Bekzod Abdurakhmonov losing by a shocking 11-1 margin.

US Women's Water Polo, With Princeton's Ashleigh Johnson in Net, Wins Gold

The U.S. women’s water polo team defended its London title against Italy with a 12-5 win. It was the U.S.'s fourth time fighting for gold in five Olympic appearances as the U.S. became the first women’s water polo team to win back-to-back gold medals. [[390738391, C]]

With Princeton’s Ashleigh Johnson in goal they were dominant. They carried a two-goal lead into halftime and after a penalty shot block by Johnson, they opened it up in the second half.

They have medaled in every Olympics since women’s water polo has become part of the Games.

Kyle Lowry, US Men's Basketball Team Guarantee Medal, Get Shot at Gold

After some early scares, the U.S team rebounded Wednesday in a rout over Argentina, 105-78, to advance to the semifinals against Spain. Now the U.S. team, led by Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, is one  win away from playing for the gold, which would be a first for Villanova’s Kyle Lowry.

The U.S. led 45-39 at the half as Spain played tough. The six-point cushion would hold as the U.S. won 82-76 to earn a spot in the gold medal game against a Serbian team that played them tough earlier in the tournament as the U.S. only won by three.

Lowry scored nine points and added three assists. [[390350601, C]]

Italy Spikes U.S. Volleyball Gold Hopes

A day after the U.S. Women's Volleyball Team lost its semifinal showdown with Serbia, the men suffered the same fate, unable to save volleyball gold for Team USA.

The team featuring Penn State's Max Holt and Aaron Russell lost 3 sets to 2 to Italy with a spot in the gold medal game on the line. After a controversial first set loss, the Americans stormed back, winning the third set in impressive fashion to go up 2-1. Italy then came back to tie it up at 2 before putting away America in the fifth set.

After Controversial Baton Flub, Women's Relay Runs for Gold

Voorhees, New Jersey's English Gardner was at the center of a worldwide track controversy Thursday when Allyson Felix contacted a competitor and missed the exchange with Gardner, causing the U.S. 4x100-Meter Relay team to appeal its last place finish. [[390582101, C]]

The appeal worked, the foursome took the track alone some hours later and it qualified for Friday night's final with the best time.

On Friday night they proved they belonged by blowing away the field and taking home gold with a time of 41.01.

Plus, Philadelphia's Taylor Ellis-Watson made her Rio debut Friday night in the Women's 4x400-Meter Relay as Team USA won their heat.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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