DAEGU, South Korea  - Racing in just her first IAAF World Championship, University of Colorado junior Emma Coburn has advanced to the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Saturday.

Coburn, the 2011 USATF Champion, finished fourth overall in the second heat to earn an automatic qualifying position for the finals. She crossed the finish with her second best time ever of 9 minutes, 38.42 seconds, just over 1 second off her personal record of 9:37.16.

Coburn found herself just outside of the automatic qualifiers (top four) as she took the final water jump in fifth place; however, as Lyubov Kharlamova of Russia stumbled a bit in the water jump, Coburn powered through the final 150 meters to take fourth-place in the second heat (Kharlamova finished in 9:40.04). Ethiopia's Sofia Assefa won the heat in 9:32.48.

"For me running 9:38 was a good sign that I still have more in the tank," Coburn said. "I think I can go a couple seconds faster still. I felt really good in the race and I'm really excited for the finals. I don't have anything to lose; I'm not in medal contention. I'm here for the experience and to run fast. Making the final was beyond any expectations."

The Creste Butte, Colo. native is the only American who qualified for the finals on August 30 at 9:20 p.m. in Daegu.

There were two other former Buffs in action today as well. Tera Moody placed 17th overall in the marathon (2:32:04) and Kara Goucher was 13th in the 10,000-meter run (32:29.58).