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UHigh cross country coach mourns former student who died in boating accident

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NORMAL (WEEK) --- A University High School cross country coach is remembering a former student who died in a boating incident Sunday.

Investigators say 19-year old Derek Nanni was rowing in Iowa's Little Wall Lake with four other members of the Iowa State University Crew Club.

Their boat capsized in what investigators say were "cold and blustery conditions" over the weekend.

Nanni and another member of the team died. The other three were rescued and treated at a local hospital.

Nanni competed for the University High School cross country team and was also a member of the swim team.

Cross country coach John Neisler says there is no one way to describe what kind of an impact Nanni had on the school.

"Funny, lovable, likeable, liked by everybody," Neisler said. "But he was is own person too. Not afraid to be his own person and do what he wanted to do regardless of what everybody else was saying. He was absolutely just a positive light and a great person to have on our team and in our building."

Neisler says Nanni comes from a family of runners and athletes.

He says members of the team are in the beginning stages of planning a memorial run in his honor.

"He was totally approachable. There was no way that he would shut somebody out for any reason," Neisler said. "He would talk to people, he would invite people in, he would go find our freshmen, he would engage people in conversation. You didn't not want to be around him."

Harry Croton

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