by Frank Bertucci
PHILADELPHIA - The names, all 2,364 of them, and numbers-883 high schools, 233 colleges, 127 clubs-are in for the 112th edition of the Penn Relays (Apr. 27-28-29).
There are short names (Ng, Hu, Le, even an Ok), famous names (Mike Schmidt, Tom Jones, Keith Jackson, James Brown). There is Faith and Charity, Joy, Prosper, Champion, Tempest, a Blessing and a Bliss, even Cochise (unfortunately not running for Indian-a).
There is a Villanova (college and individual) and a Cupid, a President and a Caesar, a Romulus (but no Remus). And two years ago there was a Ben Franklin.
But it's safe to say that there's never been a name like Nutthawut Orataiwaiwattanakul at the Penn Relays.
That's 29 letters, unhyphenated, and unpronounceable.
Mr. N or Mr. O, as he said is safest to call him, is a senior running on relays for St. Raymond High School from the Bronx (NY).
"Sometimes I just go by initials," said Mr. N, a native of Thailand who has been in this country with his family for six years. "I try to make other people's life simpler. The best is when they have to announce my name over the loudspeaker in school. I'm called a lot of things. I'm used to it."
Mr. N will be running around Franklin Field with names like Tyler D'Amore Doo, Pinky McBurrows, Funke Fagbami, Hello Eugene and Kojo Tweedie. There are friendly names (Bien-Aime) and not-so-friendly names (Jihad), literary names (Bronte, Kipling, Swift), and a general manager of a New York City baseball team (Brian Cashman).
There's an almost USC Hall of Fame backfield of Marcus Allen and Nohjay Nimpson (I said "almost"), and a former boxer who was pummeled by Muhammad Ali (Cleveland Williams).
There is royalty (Sir Leslie Ford and Lady Comfort), a great defensive lineman (Joe Greene), and a tea bag (Earl Gray). There's a Man Child (full name) and Manboard (last name). And, for one more time, Jackie Gleason is back with the girls of Middletown (N.Y.) South.
But this year, there's really no one like Nutthawut Orataiwaiwattanakul.
Some other numbers to count on for this year's Relays:
593 college men's relay teams, 546 college women's relays
1,244 high school boys' relay teams, 1,249 high school girls'
2,364 individual entrants (most of whom will compete in multiple events)
3,398 relay entrants