---- — By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
Achieving success, and for a bowler that means having a high average, is easy.
The hard part comes in maintaining it through a whole season.
No one knows that better than Milton junior Mark Artley and Lewisburg freshman Alexis Neuer.
In a year where youth held supreme in the Heartland Athletic Conference, Artley and Neuer were in charge of the movement during the 2012-13 season.
And it's no wonder why Artley and Neuer -- The Daily Item's Bowlers of the Year -- posted the kind of seasons that they had.
Both bowlers are products of Milton coach Andy Neuer, who claimed the girls Coach of the Year honors. He is the father of Alexis and a former member of the Professional Bowlers Association.
Neuer led the Black Panthers to a 25-3 record and their first conference title in 10 years. In fact, Milton is the first team other than Shikellamy to win a conference championship in the last nine years.
The boys Coach of the Year is Shikellamy's Bill Snyder, who has become accustomed to being named the girls top coach the past several years.
But in a season where his girls team was rebuilding, Snyder led his boys to a 22-6 record and a tie with Milton for the regular season crown. However, the Black Panthers were awarded the title by virtue of their head-to-head meeting against Shikellamy, a 3-1 victory.
"Our match versus Milton was very entertaining. It's fun bowling against a great team," said Snyder. "The Milton boys worked very hard to get to the top. They had an outstanding year. That being said, our boys improved dramatically this year.
"We lost a few close games, but we have to get those wins and be the stronger team in the final frames," added Snyder.
n Mark Artley
Artley, 17, did it all as Milton's leading bowler this season, and despite the pressures that were on him, he had a blast.
"It was a lot of fun being a leader on the team, and setting an example and leading the team to a league championship," he said.
The right-handed Artley had the best average in the HAC this season at 221.95, and he also had the conference's best series (757) and second-best game (289).
In the postseason, Artley didn't fare too well in the Eastern Pa Regional Tournament and he fell in the first round of the finals.
However, Artley still qualified for states in singles and he advanced all the way to the championship match where he lost by a mere 10 pins.
In the team event, Artley led the Black Panthers to a second-place finish at regionals and a seventh-place finish in the state tournament.
"Basically, my goal at regionals was to make the top 12 and qualify for states," said Artley. "As soon as I made it, I just worried about what the team had to do the next day to make it as well.
"We wanted to stay focused on our goal to make regionals, and once we were there our goal was to make states," Artley added. "As a young team, we accomplished that goal."
One goal that Artley didn't accomplish this year was to have all three high marks in the conference. He missed out on getting the HAC's high game when Midd-West's Derrick Martin rolled a 300.
But that's a goal for next year.
"Yeah, I was a little disappointed -- mainly because I had all of my good games in scrimmages. Hopefully next year I'll get all three," said Artley. "It was a challenge at some points because we have some great bowlers in our league. To be on top (in average) the whole year was a goal, and I'm glad I was able to keep it.
"My goals for next year are to lead the conference (in average) again, and as a team to win the conference title and go back to states again -- and for the team to make the state finals and for me to win the individual state title," added Artley.
n Alexis Neuer
With her pedigree, it didn't take Neuer, 14, long to make an impact in the HAC this season.
In her first varsity match for Lewisburg, Neuer rolled a 606 series. By the third match Neuer threw what turned out to be a season- and conference-high 716 series against her father's Milton team.
That was just one of several highlights for Neuer this year as she also led the HAC with a 208.0 average and was third with a high game of 278.
What else do you expect from a girl who virtually grew up around a bowling alley all her life?
"She was brought up in a bowling center, so she has been bowling for 10 years. She bowls many times in a week, probably five or six times a week," said Lewisburg coach Ray Krout. "She is a great aspect to our team. At first it was a little odd, but the other girls came together and they were asking her for pointers.
"She knows what she is doing on the lanes. She shot a 300 last year as an eighth grader in youth leagues and she has won many doubles tournaments," added Krout.
In the Eastern Regional Tournament Neuer displayed her mettle and started off strong with a 236 game. But she couldn't keep that scoring up through her remaining four games and missed a spot in the finals by just 59 pins, finishing in 27th place.
Despite her age, Neuer knows how to make big shots, and coach Krout is looking forward to that fact for several years to come.
"She is no stranger to pressure shots. She does not get excited or upset about getting bad breaks, because she knows that is part of the game" said Krout. "I am glad she is on our team, and I'm looking forward to the next three years.
"She is amazing to watch."