Daily Egyptian

Salukis introduce new assistants

By Aaron Graff

The Salukis have two new coaches who will experience a meet against a conference rival for the first time Saturday.

Head coach Rick Walker hired assistant Elise Knoche earlier this month and graduate assistant Csaba Gercsak

Knoche was the head coach at Olivet College in Michigan from 2012-2014.

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“She has head coaching experience,” Walker said. “She’s run a program, literally all by herself. That’s the kind of experience I was looking for.”

Gercsak swam for the Salukis from 2010-2013. He swam in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics for Hungary, but retired in January of 2014 and has not swam competitively since. Walker said it helped Gercsak used to swim for SIU, but it was not the only factor in his decision.

“There are certain things that I can say to him that he knows what I’m talking about,” Walker said. “Another individual, even Elise, will have to learn what I mean. He already knows because we’ve been together for so long.”

Knoche fills the void of former associate head coach Scott Olson, who left after last season.

“[Olson] wanted to be closer to family,” Walker said. “His wife’s family lives out east. They couldn’t be close to family living here.”

Walker said Olson is not currently coaching collegiate swimming.

“He certainly didn’t make a move to go coach,” Walker said.

Knoche said SIU would be a good opportunity for her since it is a bigger school than Olivet. She said she can learn from Walker’s experience.

“As a head coach I knew what I really needed from my assistant coach,” Knoche said. “I think I have a little bit of insight as to what I can do in the role of an assistant to really help Rick and the swimmers for our program to be really successful.”

Knoche said she wants to be at a school where she can help make the team better.

Gercsak replaced former graduate assistant Mike Firth, who left after last season.

Walker said Firth was originally going to continue his education, but is looking for a coaching position.

Gercsak said he studies finance, but enjoys coaching and will consider doing it for a career after he finishes school.

“I have two years in school,” Gercsak said. “We’ll see after that where I’m going to be.”

Junior swimmer Kiley Handley said it is different without Olson around.

“[Knoche] definitely is bringing a new aspect to the team,” Handley said.

She said Knoche has different techniques than Olson.

“I feel like it’s going to be a good year for us,” Handley said. “We have a lot of new freshmen that are going to help out a lot. Just having the new addition with her will make our team a lot better.”

Handley said Knoche is really easy to talk to and has a lot of swimming knowledge. Handley said Gercsak always records times at practice and helps keep practice fun. She said the staff can lead the team to success.

Knoche and Gercsak will travel with the swimming and diving team to Evansville University to compete against the Purple Aces on Saturday.

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