Almost 15 years ago, Mariner Lanes was the place where Jason Mahr became the youngest bowler in Hernando County history to shoot a perfect game. Mariner is also now the home of another stellar young performance. • Mahr, now a Hall of Fame member, threw that game at 13 years and 9 days and was very impressed with Anthony Caso last month. Anthony is a bowler who competes in both the Mighty Mites Youth League on Saturday mornings and the Mariner Youth/Adult League on Wednesday evenings.
On Dec. 27, at 14 years, 5 months and 5 days, he became one of the youngest bowlers in the history of Hernando County to toss a perfect game.
"It's really nice to be able to bowl one (a perfect game)," Anthony said, "and it is a real honor to be mentioned in the same ranks as Jason Mahr."
On the morning of his 300-game, his team was competing on lanes 11 and 12. At the time, a pair of lanes right next to his was being worked on by a mechanic. Despite the noise and peripheral distractions by a man lying across the lane next to him, Anthony ignored it and knocked out 12 consecutive strikes to make history.
Anthony began sanctioned bowling in 2005 at age 10. Then, he averaged 111 in the Young Guns League at Mariner. In less than three seasons, he quickly rose up the ladder to an astounding 187 average in the Young Adults League in 2007-08. He has already thrown five 700-series along the way.
He caught the bowling fever from his grandmother, Mary Caso. She also has been bowling since age 10 and peaked in the mid 160s. She isn't the only member of the Caso clan to take the sport seriously. Anthony's father, Charles, averages a 200 in the Coca-Cola Classic League on Monday nights.
Anthony's passion for bowling kicked into high gear about a year and a half ago. As a homeschooled teen, his physical education curriculum is established by his mother, Danielle. She allowed him to take up bowling to satisfy that commitment.
While at Mariner practicing, he caught the attention of Dave Mannello, a top-notch bowler in Hernando County, who has since passed away. At the time, he took Anthony under his wing and improved his game by leaps and bounds.
"Dave helped him, and then (Anthony) became serious about getting better," Danielle said. "We knew this was something special when there were strangers who would just come up and say, 'Wow, he's really good.' "
Now, Anthony takes advantage of the advice he receives from the one competitor ahead of him on the all-time perfect game list. Now 27, Mahr has more than 40 perfect games in his career, a number that is still growing. Anthony has every intention of chasing that number as he continues to compete.
Mahr owns KMA Pro Shop at Mariner and is usually around for Anthony to pick his brain and help him when he goes into a slump.
The advantages of having someone like Mahr around are obvious to the student.
"It's so nice to be able to get advice from someone with the experience that Jason has," Anthony said. "He's young and knows what I am going through most of the time."
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