Falcons Runner Proud Of Champion Teammates











by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioSports.com

The Fanshawe Falcons athletic program is on pace to claim a school-record medal haul in 2018-19, thanks to six provincial championships and four national medals captured already this school year.

Sammi-Jo Burch. Photo: Falcons Athletics/Sean Tilden.

A major contributor to that success is Strathroy runner Sammi-Jo Burch, a member of the Falcons women’s cross country team who this fall captured gold at both the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) and Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championship meets.

Burch, 21, was born in Sault Ste. Marie but moved to Strathroy with her family at age 3. She’s a former Strathroy District Collegiate Institute student who ran cross country for the Saints for three years.

She didn’t run during her Grade 10 year after breaking her leg in a motocross race accident. Burch has competed in that sport since she was 12 years old, and has provincial and national Top 10 finishes.

Burch is a Fanshawe Nursing program graduate who works at Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital, and currently studies in the college’s Business Human Resources program. She’s a second-year runner with the Falcons, and this year was named an All-Canadian.

“I didn’t run during my first year at Fanshawe, but over the past two seasons it has been an incredible experience,” she said.

Overall, Falcons teams counted 15 medals after the conclusion of the fall sports season, an 88-per-cent increase from fall 2017. Each of Fanshawe’s eight fall teams won at least one medal. In 2017-18, the Falcons earned a Fanshawe-record 20 medals, putting this year’s teams just five medals away from tying that mark.

The Falcons have already tied the Fanshawe record for most provincial championships in a season with six (set previously in 1979, 1988 and 2018). They have also captured four national medals, including their women’s cross country team CCAA championship.

“These incredible achievements are a credit to the work of our tremendous coaching staff and the outstanding character, skill and compete level of our student-athletes,” said Fanshawe’s manager of athletics Nathan McFadden. “With every team having success to date, quite simply, our overall athletics program has never been stronger.”

Sammi-Jo Burch (second from right) and national-champion Fanshawe Falcons. Photo: Falcons Athletics.

At the early-November CCAA National Championship 6K cross country race hosted by Toronto’s Seneca College, Burch finished eighth overall with a time of 24.22 and was named an All-Canadian. Her teammate, Janelle Hanna of Peterborough, was also named an All-Canadian and finished sixth with a time of 24:06.

Earlier, at the late-October OCAA Championship hosted by Toronto’s Centennial College, it was Hanna and Burch finishing first and fourth respectively, with times of 23:44 and 24:10.

At the September 15 season-opening Fanshawe Invitational Tournament at Fanshawe Conservation Area, Hanna finished second and Burch third to race the Falcons to victory. At the Centennial College Invitational in Toronto on October 13, it was the same result: Hanna first, Burch fourth and the Falcons victorious.

“Janelle is one of my closest friends,” Burch said. “Being able to train with her and race with her has helped me step up my own game.”

With tough competition from U Sports teams representing Ontario universities, Burch fared well at the Bill Salter Western University Invitational at London’s Thames Valley Golf Course in September, finishing 45th amongst 122 runners with a time of 23:32. The Falcons finished a respectable 10th, with Hanna the top Falcon in 42nd spot.

Sammi-Jo Burch. Photo: Falcons Athletics/Sean Tilden.

“It was a completely different field of runners – so many more great athletes,” Burch said, “and I was surprised by my time. But racing against more elite runners pushed me to be my best that day.”

Burch said the biggest thrill this season was watching her team go undefeated.

Said Burch, “It was an amazing year for us and it has been an amazing year already for Fanshawe.”

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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