UC Davis alum Kim Conley led the 5,000-meter final early on at the world track and field championships in Moscow on Saturday before finishing 12th in the elite field.
Conley, who ran the event at last year's London Olympics, was timed in 15 minutes, 36.58 seconds. She covered the first 400 meters in 1:18.53 to take the early lead and then was sixth after 800 meters in 2:36.26.
Meseret Defar of Ethiopa won the race in 14:50.19, edging Kenyan Mercy Cherono (14:51.22) and teammate Almaz Ayana (14:51.33).
"I came to Moscow with the goal of making the final after failing to do so in London a year ago," Conley said in a report on the UCD athletics website. "While I accomplished that goal, I believed I could finish better than 12th tonight, so I'm still left knowing that I have more to prove."
Drew Wartenburg, the Aggies' director of track and field and cross country, serves as Conley's coach and said her qualifying for the world championship final is another big step in her career.
"Reaching the championship race in a global meet has been an outstanding experience for Kim," he said. "After last summer, competing in the world final emerged as a principal goal for this summer and year. To have attained another lofty goal of this nature is a testament to Kim's ability to produce the type of effort necessary to be a factor at the international level.
"We both had our sights set higher for this evening's result, but at the end of the day, it's hard to argue with 12th in the world."
Conley earned her spot in the final after finishing fifth in her semifinal heat Wednesday.