Whenever he competed, gymnastics star Mark Caso was the embodiment of power and grace. The East Syracuse-Minoa graduate established himself as one of state’s best gymnasts by winning seven medals at the inaugural Empire State Games in 1978.
In one of his most memorable varsity matches, Caso and his brother, Chris, almost single-handedly won a match against rival Fulton High School. The Caso brothers combined for 102.9 points in the all-around competition and the Spartans won all six individual events.
After graduating from ES-M in 1979, Caso received a full scholarship from UCLA where he trained along side Bruin teammates Mitch Gaylord and Peter Vidmar, both world-class gymnasts.
But on January 5, 1980 Caso suffered a devastating injury that threatened his promising career. Practicing the difficult Arabian maneuver, Caso fell and broke his neck, the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae. His doctors told him that he would probably never completely recover from the injury. But exactly seven weeks later, Caso was back in the gym working out, trying to make his way back to the top.
Caso did just that as he took the gold medal in vaulting, a bronze in the rings and a fifth place overall finish at the 1982 National Sports Festival in front of a hometown crowd in Syracuse.
Also in 1982, Caso finished eight in the NCAA Championship in Lincoln, Nebraska. After he barely missed making the Olympic team, Caso began a career of teaching and training gymnastic in California.
Caso’s gymnastics background has also served him well in the world of entertainment. His motion picture credits include the role of Leonardo in the movie – Secret of the Ooze, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in 1991.
Caso is the first gymnast to be inducted into the Greater Syracuse Hall of Fame.
1978: Won seven medals at the Empire State Games
1982: Won a gold and bronze medal at the National Sports Festival in Syracuse; Fifth overall
1982: Eighth place at NCAA Championship