MEET THE TEAM

Mike Babcock

Mike Babcock

Editor

Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.

Eric Francis

Eric Francis

Staff Photographer

As part of a 25+ year career, Eric has covered Husker sports for magazines, newspapers and international wire services. He has been a regular contributor to Hail Varsity for the past few years and officially joined the team as a staff photographer in August 2016. Eric’s photos have appeared in Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine and nearly every major sports media in the country. Away from the action, Eric enjoys coaching and teaching young men how to compete and occasionally a nice lager around the fire pit with friends and family.

Drake Keeler

Drake Keeler

Staff Writer

 

Drake is a staff writer at Hail Varsity covering football, women’s basketball and baseball. A 2022 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he spent his senior year as an intern at Hail Varsity before joining full-time in the summer. In college, he worked at the Daily Nebraskan in the sports section and founded the publication’s diversity and inclusion board. Outside of work, you can find him playing video games, listening to music or trying to actually read books more often.

Mark Kraynak

Mark Kraynak

Saturday Radio Co-Host

 

Mark has been the co-host of the Hail Varsity Saturday morning radio show since 2012. While earning his broadcasting degree from UNL, Mark took Tom Osborne’s “Coaching of Football” class as an elective. He got a “C”. Don’t judge. Mark is a 3-time chili cook-off champion, has abnormally deep thoughts about IPA and single-origin coffee, and lives in Omaha with his wife and 2 kids.

Quentin Lueninghoener

Quentin Lueninghoener

Design Director

Quentin has spent the past 10+ years designing, illustrating and art directing magazines and sports sections of daily metro newspapers. He likes seeing vintage type in use, especially on sports ephemera. He’s been on board since the launch of Hail Varsity in the fall of 2012. His work has been recognized by the Society for News Design, the American Institute of Graphic Arts and his mother’s refrigerator door.

Brady Oltmans

Brady Oltmans

Staff Writer

 

Brady is a staff writer covering Nebraska football and recruiting. His work has appeared in newspapers across the country since starting at the Lincoln Journal Star in 2011. He’s farm raised from Nuckolls County, Nebraska, and an eight-man football alum. He enjoys hiking, music, cooking, running, reading and nature. You can typically find him out with his dog or at the nearest rodeo.

Jacob Padilla

Jacob Padilla

Staff Writer

 

Jacob has been covering Husker basketball, football and volleyball for Hail Varsity since 2015 and during that time he’s gotten to cover a couple national titles, which is pretty cool. He spent four years writing about sports for Creighton’s student newspaper, he’s been covering Nebraska prep sports since 2012 and he has extensive blogging experience, primarily about the Phoenix Suns. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.

Jolie Peal

Jolie Peal

Content and Video Production Intern

Jolie has been the content and video production intern for Hail Varsity since 2021. She is a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying journalism and broadcasting. In her time at UNL, she has worked at the student paper, The Daily Nebraskan, in the news and culture sections. Jolie was also a part of an award-winning podcast called “State of Waste” with the UNL College of Journalism. Outside of school and work, Jolie can be found either scrolling through TikTok or diving into a good book.

Derek Peterson

Derek Peterson

Varsity Club Podcast Host

 

Derek is the host of the Varsity Club Podcast. He is also an editor and writer for Saturday Out West. Derek covered Husker athletics for Hail Varsity from 2017-21. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.

John Peterson

John Peterson

Staff Photographer

 

John is a senior and editorial photographer from Lincoln, Nebraska. He enjoys watching his kids do their activities, follow the Huskers and work on do-it-yourself projects around the house. He has worked for Hail Varsity as a photographer and director of photography, Associated Press as a freelance photographer, Icon Sportswire and many colleges athletic departments.

Chris Schmidt

Chris Schmidt

Radio Host

 

Chris teamed up with Aaron and Mike Babcock back in 2008 and has been working the radio ever since. Originally from Lincoln, Chris grew up going to Husker games with his family. “Schmidty” loves talking sports and the chance to interview and visit with coaches and players. Chris is married to Erin Schmidt and they have one son, Carson.

Erin Sorensen

Erin Sorensen

Deputy Editor/Digital Marketing Strategist

 

Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska Athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has been featured on the Big Ten Network, Nebraska Public Media’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a variety of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.

Brandon Vogel

Brandon Vogel

Managing Editor

 

Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports. He is also the co-author of “Dream Like a Champion” with Nebraska volleyball Coach John Cook.

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