Poly runner Dorian Claggett looks to add to his medal collection at Junior Olympics

Starting when he was six years old, Dorian Claggett would beg anybody in his house to play Monopoly with him.

His persistence would eventually pay off, as somebody would reluctantly volunteer, and then Claggett would methodically go about winning the game. Even at that young age, he always had a game plan and a competitive fire.

"I like to go around [the Monopoly board] one time and then make sure to get the properties I want," Claggett said. "You have to wait it out, get some houses up and then some hotels and then you're set."

Set to be a junior at Poly this fall, Claggett, 15, takes the same approach to his blossoming track career.

Competing in both indoor and outdoor track at Poly and for the Baltimore City Track and Field Club in the summer, he prepares extensively, paying close attention to detail concerning his diet and training regimen. He scouts his opponents, checking various running web sites to find any advantages.

And, like in Monopoly, he often wins.

Claggett's next challenge starts Tuesday at the AAU National Junior Olympics in New Orleans, when he competes in the first of his four events. To make his third appearance at the Junior Olympics, Claggett won the 200- and 400-meter events and was part of winning 400 and 1600 relays at the Maryland district meet in early June.

"My goal this year is to win, and I think I'm in a good position to do so," Claggett said. "This prepares me for anything I'll see in the state, so it definitely gets me ready. And I just really enjoy the diversity of the people I meet. There are so many people in the country with different lifestyles and different accents. It exposes you to different things."

After playing football, baseball, basketball and other sports while growing up, Claggett ran his first race at a meet in Virginia when he was 12. He won that race and was quickly hooked on track.

"Dorian has it in his blood," said his father, Damien Claggett, who also ran track in his youth. "Just after one meet he was completely into it, and I was shocked to see how much it motivated him. His focus is entirely on track. From the time he wakes up, he wants to jog or swim or do anything that can give him a competitive edge."

It shows, most apparently on Claggett's bedroom walls.

Starting beside his door, he has the 63 medals he has won so far lined up next to each other, and he's striving to eventually have the collection wrap fully around his room. He's easily more than halfway there.

He doesn't have any particular order for them, but two are placed a little higher than the rest. The first is the medal from his third-place finish in the 1600 relay in last year's Junior Olympics, and the second is from his first-place finish in the 400 at the Class 3A state outdoor championships this past spring.

Bringing home that state title for Poly has been his unquestioned highlight to date.

"That was the best feeling I've had in my life," Claggett said. "Usually it's seniors and juniors who win. So to be a sophomore and win was amazing. I just couldn't believe it. I just looked up at the screen for a long time, thinking, 'That's my name.'"

Poly coach Rashi Pinckney expects to see Claggett's name on top plenty more throughout his career.

"You'll never find a more dedicated person who loves track," Pinckney said. "Dorian is a track man — he eats and sleeps track, lives it. And he's not afraid of competition, in fact, he embraces it. Every time he steps on the track, he knows it's an opportunity for him to improve. The sky is the limit for Dorian. "


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