Anthony Caso certainly ended his youth bowling career with a bang.
It was early last month, and the 18-year-old lefty from Spring Hill knew he wanted to begin competing as an adult.
Considering his age, the fact he has graduated from Florida Virtual School and is starting his first semester at Pasco-Hernando Community College this month, he’s at the stage in his life where it makes sense to move up.
Then there was the three 300 games and two 800 series within the space of a few months, continued success in tournaments, and that 229 average.
“I’ve got some opportunities that have presented themselves recently to bowl in adult tournaments and put some money in my pocket,” Caso said. “But I also have a chance to be on staff with Storm.”
He just had one small bit of unfinished business: a Florida Junior Bowling Tour event at AMF Casselberry Lanes in Fern Park on April 7.
“I wanted to bowl in that tournament one last time, just to say I won the one I hadn’t won,” Caso said. “I ended up winning that.”
A few days later, he dropped out of the youth leagues at Spring Hill Lanes, officially becoming an adult in the eyes of the United States Bowling Congress.
A breakout 2008-09 winter campaign, when he notched his first 300 and 800 while his average crept above 200, began cementing Caso’s reputation as a rising young bowler.
But this season has truly been something special.
On the opening day, Nov. 24, Caso rolled an 803 (248-276-279) over the final three games. He returned the next day to shoot a pair of 300s across an eight-game span and take first place.
The following weekend, on Dec. 2, bowling in a tournament at Countryside Lanes in Clearwater, he strung together scores of 267-258-279 for an 804 set. He ended up falling in the championship match in that event to place second.
Fast-forward to March 30, this time in the Youth Elite League at Spring Hill Lanes. Caso added another perfect game, his fifth overall.
“I’m getting older,” Caso said, talking about what led to his recent performances. “I had a few bad tournaments in a row. I was thinking something is not going right. I practiced a lot. I worked with a lot of different people. I’ve been getting sharper and I’m able to repeat my shots more than I was the last one or two years.”
Over the past two and a half years he has worked at Kevin’s Pro Shop at Spring Hill Lanes, learning the ins and outs of bowling technology under owner Kevin Williams.
He has also become a representative for Storm, utilizing that company’s equipment when he’s competing.
As he builds up on experience and knowledge of the sport, it has all contributed to Caso’s rapid improvement.
“It was nice to see when I had a problem, I worked on it and I was able to fix it,” Caso said. “Being able to bowl in tournaments and bowl in the 10th frame with the pressure on, to see if the tweaks work out, that’s what it’s all about for me.”
On April 18, his first time ever bowling in a sanctioned adult league, subbing in the Small Business Scratch at Spring Hill Lanes, Caso shot a personal best of 825.
The series featured games of 279, 268 and 278. He now has five 800s overall.
“Everyone in the league knew me, knew I was a good bowler, but I still wanted to earn respect from them,” Caso said. “Just because I’m 18 doesn’t mean I can’t bowl as well as an adult can.
“I’m very happy so far. I thought it’d take a little while for me to have the success I’m having, but I’m happy it was able to come so quickly.”