Americans Bradie Tennell, Vincent Zhou lead fields at Four Continents Championships

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Americans Bradie Tennell and Vincent Zhou are in first place in the ladies’ and men’s short programs at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Anaheim, Calif. after skating Thursday.

Full results: Ladies | Men

Tennell skated clean to score 73.91 points. Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto, who won the event last year, sits in second place with 73.36 points.

“I feel like I performed very well,” Tennell said through U.S. Figure Skating. “I’m extremely happy with how I did. It’s exactly how I train at home and it’s what I wanted to do here, to go out there and trust myself and trust my training.”

Mariah Bell from Team USA is in third place heading into Friday’s free skate with 70.02 points. The third American in the field, Ting Cui, sits in seventh with 66.73 points. Cui received an edge call on her triple flip.

“I think it’s the first time I’ve put out a really solid short program and I have so much more room to grow,” Bell said.

The last U.S. woman to win Four Continents was Polina Edmunds in 2015.

Reporter’s NotebookCan U.S. Figure Skating’s junior world team help improve results?

Later Thursday, Zhou was the only man in the field to crack the 100-point mark, scoring 100.18 points. South Korea’s Junhwan Cha is in second place with 97.33 points and China’s Boyang Jin, who won the event last year, is third with 92.17 points.

“This is my first time breaking 100 in the short in international competition,” Zhou said. “I am very happy with this result. It is a reward and a testimony to the hard work I’ve been putting in.”

Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno is fourth with 91.76 points. The other two Americans in the field, Jason Brown and Tomoki Hiwatashi, sit sixth and ninth, respectively. The men’s free skate is Saturday.

Nathan Chen is the most recent U.S. man to win Four Continents, doing so in 2017. He is not competing at Four Continents but is expected to defend his world title next month in Japan.

MORE: How to watch Four Continents

As a reminder, you can watch Four Continents and the world championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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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)