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2016 Olympics Aug. 16 recap: Jenny Simpson makes Team USA history in 1500m event

RIO DE JANEIRO -- The Pac-12 can’t stop winning medals at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Tuesday marked the 10th full day of competition in Brazil for the summer games. It also marked the 10th straight day that an athlete from the Conference of Champions stepped up on a podium before receiving some hardware.

While America’s favorite volleyball duo was bounced to the bronze match on the beach, another athlete from a Pac-12 school made some history for Team USA. Take a look at the top Pac-12 storylines from Tuesday’s Olympic action.

WOMEN’S TRACK AND FIELD

A day after her training partner and fellow Colorado alum Emma Coburn won a bronze medal in the 3000m steeplechase, Jenny Simpson took bronze in the 1500m final at the Estadio Olimpico in Rio with a time of 4:10.53. Like Coburn with the steeplechase, it marked the first time an American woman medaled in the 1500m.

"I love competing,” Simpson said. “ I love feeling that stress on the last lap. I was one of the crowd who could maybe get third so I'm really happy.”

A couple of Oregon Ducks -- Deajah Stevens and Jenna Prandini -- took part in the 200m semifinals. While Stevens (sixth, 22.38) qualified for Wednesday’s final, Prandini -- who edged out USA track living legend Allyson Felix by 0.01 seconds in Olympic trials -- failed to make the cut after placing 10th with a time of 22.55.

Ex-USC sprinter Nia Ali has advanced to Wednesday’s semifinals in the 100m hurdles after placing sixth with a time of 12.76 seconds.

Former Arizona State cross country star Shelby Houlihan finished 10th in Tuesday’s 5000m prelims with a time of 15:19.76 and has secured a spot in Friday’s final.

WOMEN’S BEACH VOLLEYBALL

In front of a wild crowd on Copacabana Beach in another midnight match, Stanford product Kerri Walsh Jennings and USC alum April Ross faced Brazilian pair Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas De Freitas in an intense semifinal. With the home fans behind them, Agatha and Barbara stormed to a two-set sweep, 22-20 and 21-18. For Walsh Jennings, it snaps her three-Olympics streak of winning gold in beach volleyball and marked her first loss in 27 Olympic matches.

Throughout the night, Walsh Jennings had trouble handling serves while the Brazilians played nearly perfect. Agatha and Barbara routinely found soft spots in the American defense, while making some remarkable digs and blocks at timely junctions of the match. It was a seesaw battle that featured plenty of rallies that elicited ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the crowd, but it seemed like the home pair always had an answer.

After claiming a two-point victory in the first set, Agatha and Barbara ran out to a 6-2 lead in the second set to take early control. But Walsh Jennings and Ross stayed collected and didn’t call a timeout, leveling the score at 8-8 just a few minutes later. Agatha and Barbara couldn’t miss, though, as Walsh Jennings and Ross had to call a timeout trailing 17-14 to try and stem the tide to no avail. On the final point of the match, Agatha delivered a big spike that Ross couldn’t handle, as it sprayed out of bounds and sent the fans into a frenzy.

For now, Walsh Jennings and Ross will have to settle for Wednesday night’s bronze medal match against another Brazilian duo -- Larissa Franca Maestrini and Talita Rocha.

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL

Despite rolling through the group stage with a perfect 5-0 record, Team USA expected a tough showdown with a defensive-minded Japan team on Tuesday. But the American attack was too much to handle, as the U.S. swept Japan, 3-0 to advance to Thursday’s semifinal match against Serbia.

Team USA set the tone with a 25-16 victory in the first set, before claiming 25-23 and 25-22 wins to close out the match. Ex-Stanford star Foluke Akinradewo delivered 7 kills while adding a team-high 3 blocks on the defensive end. Former UCLA Bruin Karsta Lowe tacked on three more kills for the offense.

MEN’S TRACK AND FIELD

After advancing out of the semifinals in the 110m hurdles, Oregon football wide receiver Devon Allen took to the starting blocks on Tuesday night with a chance to win an Olympic medal. But Allen finished in fifth place with a time of 13.31, meaning he’ll head back to Eugene empty-handed as far as medals go. Still, he’s just 21 and, along with Oregon teammate Johnathan Cabral of Canada who finished just behind Allen in sixth, had the experience of a lifetime while representing Team USA.

Fellow Oregon Duck Matthew Centrowitz ran in the 1500m prelims on Tuesday, advancing to Thursday’s semifinals after placing 15th with a mark of 3:39.31.

WOMEN’S SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING

Mariya Koroleva, of Stanford, and partner Anita Alvarez competed in Tuesday’s women’s synchronized swimming final, placing ninth with a collective score of 173.9945.

WOMEN’S SAILING

Heading into Thursday’s medal race in the women’s 49er:FX competition, Stanford’s Helena Scutt and partner Paris Henken rank ninth with a total of 94 points, 48 behind the leaders from Spain. The American duo ranked 6th, 12th and 12th in the trio of preliminary races on Tuesday.

MEN’S DIVING

Former Stanford diver Kristian Ipsen nearly made it on the podium in Tuesday’s 3m springboard finals, but finished fifth after scoring a 475.80 following his series of six dives. ASU product Mickey Benedetti was named as a first reserve after placing 13th in the semifinals (387.30), but didn’t get to participate in the final.

WOMEN’S EQUESTRIAN

Stanford’s Lucy Davis and her trusty horse, Barron, were back in action on Tuesday in two competitions of show jumping. Davis didn’t record any faults in Round 2 of the individual competition on Tuesday, and sits tied for 15th with a total of 4 faults. She’ll wrap up qualifiers on Wednesday with a third prelim session.

As part of USA’s four-person team contingent, Davis helped her squad go through the first round without any faults. The Americans are one of four countries with no faults heading into Wednesday’s second and final round of the team competition.

MEN’S MARATHON SWIMMING

Tunisian flag bearer Ous Mellouli, competing in his fourth Olympic games, couldn’t defend his gold medal in the men’s 10km marathon swim on Tuesday. The USC product clocked in at 1:53.06, which was good for 12th place.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Team Canada was bounced from the Olympics on Tuesday after suffering a 68-63 loss to France in the quarterfinals. Former Utah guard Kim (Smith) Gaucher led the Canadians with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while fellow Ute alums Shona Thornburn was held scoreless and Michelle Plouffe didn’t play.

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