Katie Navarre takes to the trail at the NCAA D-III Women’s Cross Country Championship, where she set a Denison record by crossing the finish line in sixth place. Photo: Lynne Browske
Running is in Katie Navarre’s genes. Her entire family– mom, dad, brothers, and sister–have all taken up the family sport, and Navarre ‘11 claims she can take her brothers in heel-to-toe combat. It’s her sister, though, who gives Navarre the most inspiration. When Shelly Navarre was born without skin on her legs, doctors diagnosed a rare skin disease called epidermolysis bullosa, or EB. At first they worried they would have to amputate, but later found they could save the younger Navarre’s legs through skin graft surgery. Though her legs rarely give her problems anymore, Shelly still suffers from blisters in her throat as a result of EB. Still, her health problems haven’t stopped her from strapping on her shoes and dominating the sport; she qualified for the state championship in her first two seasons at Upper Arlington High School in Ohio. If she could do it, thought the older Navarre sister, there should be nothing to stop a perfectly healthy runner like Katie.
Now, as a junior at Denison, nothing has stopped Katie Navarre. The 4’11” speedster set a school record by finishing sixth at the NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country Championship in November–the best finish by any individual in Denison cross country history. It’s her second top-ten finish at the meet in two years and her second All-American nod. And this was all after a tendonitis injury in her leg, which required Navarre to train in the pool. She won anyway. Then she did it again at regionals, where she was named the NCAA’s Great Lakes Regional Runner of the Year.
Navarre has managed to top her own records every year at Denison, and next year, she plans to do it again.