Tilghman student on track for record in speech
It typically takes even the best speech students until their senior years to hit the big 1,000. The first Tilghman student to hit it was Will Hancock, who accumulated 1,102 points by the time he graduated in May 2014. Since Hassel is only a junior, he is on track to set a school record.

"I didn't even realize points were a thing until the end of my freshman year," Hassel said. "I've never really cared about the points. I just do it because I love it."

Hassel competes in three events: humorous interpretation, duo interpretation and improvisational duo. Each event has its own rules and boundaries that Hassel, his teammates and his competitors are expected to follow. Every time he places for an event, Hassel gets points.

This year Hassel's performed well enough that he will compete at the state level next month in all three of his events. He's also already qualified to compete at the national level in May for humorous interpretation.

Though Hassel has hit the 1,000th point benchmark, earning himself a "Degree of Outstanding Distinction," he's still striving for another speech goal he set for himself years ago. He wants to win all three of his events.

His first year on the speech team, Hassel watched his teammate Victoria Potter become one of the first few people to win all three of her events, a feat Hassel said can be even harder than earning 1,000 points. He also got to see Hancock, another of his speech team role models, win his 1,000th point.

"I want to be just as good as they are," Hassel said. "I'm still working toward that."

In the meantime, Hassel is already anticipating next year's speech competition season. When he talks about it, or about anything speech team-related for that matter, he nearly shouts with excitement.

Points are cool, but for Hassel it's all about the people and the performance.

"It's just a whole other world with the most unique people ever," Hassel said. "You get to be yourself. And no matter what, no matter who you are or what color you are, what race you are, everybody is accepting of you. I just love it. A bunch!"

Contact Genevieve Postlethwait, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651.
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