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Vander Esch declares for NFL draft, having left his mark at BSU

Leighton Vander Esch, a Salmon River High School alumnus and a Boise State University football standout is heading for the NFL, he announced in a tweet last Thursday, Dec. 21.

“It has been the honor of my life to play for the team I always grew up following,” he wrote. “I feel now is the best time for me to pursue another childhood dream - playing in the National Football League — something Boise State University, my coaches, my teammates, my family and my friends have put me in the position to do.”

A relatively prominent NFL draft analyst — Tony Pauline, formerly of, currently of — has flagged Vander Esch as a potentially a first- or second-round choice with a “first team prospect” player grade.

That is to say, some NFL draft-watchers regard Vander Esch as a “player who has ability to make plays from the get go and start early into his rookie season.”

“I’m told Vander Esch could run as fast as 4.6s in the 40 at the combine and post a vertical jump near 37 inches,” Pauline wrote on the day of Vander Esch’s decision.

But that remains to be seen at the combine, which runs Feb. 27-March 5.

Find his statement in full online at or

McGuigan plans to run ‘down under’ this June

Joe McGuigan of Nezperce has been invited to represent Highland High School and Idaho on the 2018 “Down Under Sports” cross-country team. He plans to travel June 26 to Queensland, Australia for competition, and he’s looking to raise about $3,000 to cover the expenses.

“A friend of mine, Ryan Heideman, did it, and that’s how I got connected to it,” McGuigan told the Free Press Tuesday, Dec. 26. “I like running a lot and I’ve improved my time a lot.”

Read more about Down Under Sports online at and contact McGuigan at

Ski season arrives in Grangeville area

The Forest Service announced the first trail grooming of the season in the Fish Creek area took place Thursday, Dec. 21, and the Snowhaven Ski and Tubing Area announced the first day of the season there will be Dec. 26.

"We packed and groomed all loops, we were not able to set a track due to an equipment issue," Sam Manifold, Forest Service developed recreation supervisor, announced Dec. 21.

“We picked up 4 inches of new snow and this gives us 16 inches at the lodge and 20 inches at the summit,” Snowhaven manager Scott Wasem noted early Dec. 26.


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