BIWABIK, Minn. – Tommy Anderson considers his alliance with Maddie Dekko as a "love-hate relationship." They both sported gleaming smiles Wednesday afternoon.
Eagan High School's Anderson and Blake's Dekko, teammates on the Buck Hill club team, swept medalist honors at the Alpine state ski meet at Giants Ridge. Anderson won the boys' crown a year after not qualifying for the state meet. Dekko rebounded from a disastrous second run last season to claim the girls' title.
"We kind of bumped into each other after the race," Anderson said. "I think we were both too excited after winning to notice each other. It's all love between us today."
Anderson was so consumed by his performance that he didn't recall Dekko's celebration after their second run.
The state event consists of two runs, with the champions having the best overall time.
"I jumped on his back," Dekko said.
"You did?" asked Anderson with a grin. Dekko and girls' runner-up Rosie Hust of Orono, also a member of the Buck Hill club team, have a history of tormenting Anderson at every given opportunity.
"We're like a family," Anderson said.
"We are all really close."
South Suburban rules
Anderson took his celebration to another level with South Suburban Conference rivals and friends Jack Lindsay of Burnsville and Luke Doolittle of Eastview finishing second and third, respectively. The two juniors are also members of the Buck Hill ski club.
"They really helped push me this year," Anderson said. He got off to a flying start down the Innsbruck course during a bitterly cold morning, with temperatures in the single digits below zero. He clocked in at 34.85 seconds on his initial run, less than a second ahead of Lindsay and Doolittle.
"Being that it's my senior year, I was going to go as hard as I could," Anderson said. "I had a couple of bobbles, otherwise I thought my first run was fast."
It was quick enough that Lindsay and Doolittle both realized they would need superb efforts on their second run to catch Anderson.
"He was going to be tough to catch on the second run," Lindsay said. "He's a great skier."
Anderson also posted the fastest time down the Helsinki course, finishing in 32.91 seconds for overall time of 1:07.76. The trio finished in the same order in the afternoon session.
It was redemption for Anderson, who fell in the Section 4 meet last season.
"I was really disappointed at first, but I got over it pretty quickly," Anderson said. "It was only one race. I wasn't going to let that define who I was as a skier."
Just like he isn't going to let his win sway him the other way.
"It's nice to be on top, but I don't want this to be the defining moment of my career either," Anderson said. "I have to keep working hard because there are people chasing me."
Gold in the mittens
Dekko donned the same mittens her father, Jeff, wore while winning the 1984 boys' individual title for Edina. Her younger brother, Zach, also wore them while helping Blake to the boys' team championship two years ago.
"The mittens have definitely been lucky," Dekko said. She had the fastest time on both runs, finishing with an overall time 1:14.18. "It's been truly amazing."
Dekko found herself in same position a year ago when she led after the first run, only to fall during her second run and miss a shot at the state championship as a junior.
"Last year I got caught up in the moment, and lost my focus," Dekko said. "I'm just happy I got a second chance. I couldn't be happier."
As far as the mittens, Dekko said, "It's my turn to pass them down. They're going to Rosie next year."
Hust, a junior, has been the runner-up the past two years. She finished 65-hundreths of a second behind Dekko.
"It gets a little frustrating to keep coming close and not winning," Hust said. "But I get the mittens next year."
•Edina, boys' co-champion with Forest Lake a year ago, repeated but solo this time while Blake won its first girls' title since 1992.
For Dekko, her gold medal ended a string of five consecutive runner-up finishes (two in soccer, three in skiing). The Bears had three consecutive runner-up finishes.
"We didn't want to take second anymore," Dekko said. "It was a collective team effort."
•Thursday's first race will be delayed 30 minutes. The new start time is 10:30 a.m.