Berkley High graduate earns cross country All-American

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published December 20, 2017

 Berkley High graduate Andrew Bill became the first male runner from Albion College’s cross country program to be an All-American with a top-40 finish at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships Nov. 18 in Elsah, Illinois. Bill finished the championships in 39th place.

Berkley High graduate Andrew Bill became the first male runner from Albion College’s cross country program to be an All-American with a top-40 finish at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships Nov. 18 in Elsah, Illinois. Bill finished the championships in 39th place.

Photo provided by Bobby Lee

While records can be broken, 2016 Berkley High graduate and Albion College sophomore Andrew Bill accomplished something no one can ever take away from him.

Bill became the first male cross country runner from Albion to be named an All-American when he finished 39th at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships Nov. 18 in Elsah, Illinois.

Bill completed the 8-kilometer course in a time of 24 minutes, 59.64 seconds.

A top-40 finish is required to be an All-American. After Bill crossed the finish line, he thought he had finished 41st.

Although he said it was “very agonizing” after a wait of approximately 10 minutes, Bill’s demeanor changed when he learned what he had accomplished.

“It was really special,” he said. “All-American in general is pretty special, but then realizing that you were the first man to do it from your school for your sport, it was a really amazing feeling.”

Bill’s other accomplishments from his sophomore season included being an all-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association first-team runner and finishing first at two events. He was also selected as the MIAA’s Male Runner of the Week three times.

As a freshman, Bill was just the third first-year collegiate runner to reach the finish line at the NCAA Division III Championship.

On his first recruiting visit with Albion, Bill’s coach, Derick Lawrence, discussed the possibility of him being a national champion. With what he has already achieved in his first two seasons, that notion may not be too far-fetched.

“When I first heard that, I was shocked,” Bill said. “I didn’t think I could do that. … It was eye-opening, really. I don’t think anyone saw that much potential in me before, so to hear that, it was something special. It drives me.”

Lawrence described Bill as a program changer.

“He had a fantastic year,” Lawrence said. “To get that opportunity to compete again on a national scene is something very special. To top it off with (an) All-American award is even better.”

Bill described being a collegiate athlete as an amazing experience, and whether he comes away as a national champion or not, it’s been a special season in his life.

“It’s been awesome,” Bill said. “You learn so many more life lessons through college athletics. It’s really special.”