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The Murray State News

Best Athlete: Cayson Conner

Rebeca Mertins Chiodini
Junior Cayson Conner chases after Drake Bulldog Taylor McAulay.

Murray State is full of outstanding athletes across all sports, but one has stuck out to students and members of the community as the best of the best. Her name is Cayson Conner.

The junior guard of the women’s basketball team was voted as the best athlete in Murray as a part of our “Best of” ballot, and while the pick came as a surprise to her, she expressed how grateful she is to earn such an honor.

“I was very surprised and honored to be named Murray State’s Best Athlete,” Conner said. “I believe I have the support of my sorority sisters in Alpha Gamma Delta to thank for this award. I am very appreciative of all of the support I have received from my peers during my time at Murray State.”

Before her time at Murray State, Conner was a part of a Marshall County team that made it all the way to the state championship game in 2020-21. 

She led the team, averaging 14 points per game, and was a finalist for both the 2021 Miss Kentucky Basketball and 2021 Region 1 Player of the Year.

In her time at Murray State, she’s racked up over 200 points, 100 assists and 150 rebounds, while playing in over 80 games at the time of writing. She’s started in every game so far in the 2023-24 season and has even scored her collegiate career high of 11 points in a game this season.

Conner credits much of her success to her dad, who has been by her side every step of the way during her basketball journey.

“We have a very close relationship and have bonded through sports for as long as I can remember,” Conner said. “I always loved practicing with him as a kid, and he has continued to be one of my biggest fans.”

She also made sure to give props to the coaches of her career.

“I was blessed to have very influential coaches throughout my career,” she said. “I believe they all contributed to my success.”

Head Coach Rechelle Turner made it known how valuable Conner is to the team this season, giving her props for her leadership.

“Cayson is a glue piece for our team,” Turner said. “She always finds a way to make a winning play. She is a selfless leader and has helped grow our program over the last three years.”

Conner’s teammates also weighed in on her award, with freshman guard Haven Ford giving high praise to the teamwork that Conner brings to the team.

“Cayson is someone that every team needs and should have on their side,” Ford said. “She’s one of the most selfless people that I have met. You can go to her about anything and she is always willing to help in any way she can. Me personally, coming in as a freshman, she has guided me through my adjustments, and I couldn’t thank her enough.”

Senior forward Katelyn Young echoed many of Ford’s thoughts and emphasized how great of a teammate Conner is.

“Cayson is the person and player that will do anything for the team to be successful,” Young said. “She does the little things that don’t always show up on the stats sheet. Her knowledge of the game has helped our team tremendously. She is someone I can always go to for advice, and you will know that her answer is genuine. Every team deserves a teammate like Cayson Conner.”

Conner gave some advice for incoming college athletes, sharing her experiences and thoughts she believes are the key to success.

“Being an athlete in college has been challenging, but it has also been very rewarding,” she said. “I am so thankful for the relationships and memories I have made. My best piece of advice would be to surround yourself with people who are going to push you to be the best you can be.”

With that, it’s back to the task at hand for Conner and the rest of the team, as there’s still basketball left to play.

While her name may not always be towards the top of the stat sheet, Conner is always there to make the smart plays that help the Racers be successful. Fans took notice of her work ethic and showed her they appreciate her by naming her the best athlete in Murray.


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About the Contributors
Jakob Milani
Jakob Milani, Sports Editor
Jakob Milani is all about sports. He joined the staff of The Murray State News in 2020 as a sports writer, assigned to women's basketball, and by fall 2021 was named Sports Editor. He is a dedicated lover of all things Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears related, and loves to talk about all things sports. He is a co-host of "The Iron Grid" podcast with fellow sports writer Ronan Summers, and only ever watches ESPN in his down time. Aside from sports, Jakob also has a passion for music and baking. His favorite artists include Nirvana, Travis Scott, and Queen. His favorite item to bake is cheesecake.
Rebeca Mertins Chiodini
Rebeca Mertins Chiodini, Photography Editor
Rebeca Mertins Chiodini began photographing for The News in fall 2022 and began Photo Editor in 2023. She loves to photograph all things sports, but especially baseball. A journalism major, she minors in Spanish and Photography.

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