VESTAL, N.Y. (WIVT/WBGH) – It is not every day that an athlete gets to compete at a national championship event.

Next week, Binghamton University’s Aziza Chigatayeva will do just that, when she competes in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 3000 Steeplechase event.

The Bearcats graduate student qualified at the NCAA East Regional last Saturday with a time of 10:02.11, which placed her third in her heat and ninth overall.

Speaking with the media on Friday, Chigatayeva expressed her excitement for the opportunity to compete at the NCAA championship event next week.

“I’m just so honored, it’s been a long journey to get here,” Chigatayeva said. “We’ve worked really hard as an entire team, it really does take a village, I’m really feeling the support. I’m really excited to represent Binghamton.”

Chigatayeva also said that reaching this point was a goal from the start and that both she and the coaches were confident that she could make it this far.

She also mentioned how she is competing at her best going into the big event.

“The plan this year was to peak for nationals,” Chigatayeva said. “We kinda had a lot of confidence that I was going to make the national meet. I had a lot of confidence, Coach Acuff had a lot of confidence in me. When your coach believes in you, that’s kinda all you really need.”

That confidence paid off as Chigatayeva is off to the national championship meet which begins on Thursday with the trials, followed by the finals on Saturday if she qualifies.