Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte
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Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky set for Minneapolis duels

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Michael Phelps qualified for one top final and missed another in his first events at a Pro Swim Series meet in Minneapolis on Thursday morning.

Phelps, competing for the first time since he won three events at the U.S. Championships in August, finished tied for fourth overall in the 100m butterfly prelims in 53.70 seconds at the University of Minnesota.

He made the top eight-man final (7:37 p.m. ET, USASwimming.org) along with Ryan Lochte, the second-fastest in the morning at 53.27.

Phelps was 10th overall in prelims in his other event Thursday, the 200m freestyle, which he hasn’t been focusing on in his comeback from a 20-month competitive retirement following the London Olympics. Lochte was third in qualifying in the 200m free, making the top eight-man final (7:11 p.m.).

Phelps was .18 faster in the 100m butterfly prelims Thursday than at this same meet in November 2011. He was .99 slower in the 200m free prelims than in 2011.

Phelps and Lochte could face off in the 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle later in the Olympic season-opening meet that runs through Saturday.

In women’s events, Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin were the first and third seeds, respectively, into the top 200m freestyle final (7:03 p.m.). Olympic 200m free champion Allison Schmitt qualified fourth.

Ledecky later beat both 2012 U.S. Olympians in the 400m individual medley (Elizabeth BeiselCaitlin Leverenz) in her preliminary heat in that race but was touched out by Becca Mann.

Ledecky has said she may swim the grueling 400m IM at the Olympic trials, in addition to her trademark freestyle events. She’s the No. 2 seed going into the final (7:47 p.m.) behind Mann. Beisel also made the top final, as did Maya DiRado, the World silver medalist in the event.

Olympic champion Dana Vollmer was the second-fastest qualifier into the top 100m butterfly final, .19 behind Kelsi Worrell. Worrell is the fastest American in the event this year, while Vollmer is coming back after having a baby boy March 6.

MORE: Phelps touched by reaction to SI story

*Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated Caitlin Leverenz made the top eight-woman 400m individual final. She was ninth in qualifying, according to SwimmingWorld.

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)