DES MOINES, Iowa - Senior Alexi Pappas (Alameda, Calif.) did what she said she wanted to do earlier this week, qualifying for Friday's final in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Pappas automatically advanced to the finals in the event with a fourth-place showing in the first heat of national semifinals early Wednesday evening at Drake Stadium, running a 10:00.38. Her time held up as the fourth fastest qualifying time of the night too after both heats were completed.

The Big Green's record holder in the event was in the top group the entire race, taking the lead with two laps left before wisely conserving her energy for a shot at the national title in two days.

The top five runners in each of the two heats, plus the next best four times, all move on to compete in the finals with the individual championship on the line. In Pappas' heat, those top five runners were separated by a mere 1.88 seconds.

Friday's final is set for a 7:30 p.m. ET start.