The beginning of this episode backtracks a little to the end of Episode 18, when Onoda passes by the fallen Midousuji. However, unlike what we saw in the previous episode, this section is expanded here to show Onoda’s thoughts as he passes by Midousuji. We then see Onoda catching up with Imaizumi, and they talk about Sohoku having a one-two finish.

Meanwhile, Sohoku’s support crew becomes emotional when they hear that Onoda and Imaizumi are in first and second place, with many of them excited about the potential for a one-two finish after how their team had performed the previous two days. We get an amusing bit with Aya getting so excited about this potential that she hugs Sadatoki Sugimoto, who happens to be nearby. Whenever he shows up in the remainder of this scene, he has this look on his face that shows he’s happy about being hugged by a girl. But the scene ends on a more serious note, with Koga reflecting on how Imaizumi and the other second years have grown, and we hear his appreciation for Teshima and Aoyagi in his thoughts. The scene ends with him hoping that no obstacles will appear for this final stretch of the race.

Unfortunately, Koga’s wish doesn’t come true, because Imaizumi and Onoda are surprised by the sudden arrival of Kuroda and Manami. Kuroda’s been pulling Manami the whole time in order for Manami to preserve his strength, and Manami is sent forward to attack. Imaizumi orders Onoda to accelerate, and when Imaizumi tries to go faster himself, he finds he used up too much energy in his race against Midousuji. Manami has pulled ahead, and Imaizumi wants Onoda to go forward… but Onoda hesitates because he’s conflicted between the promise he made to Manami to race each other and the promise to make the one-two finish with Imaizumi.

We see Imaizumi having a flashback of talking with Makashima about Onoda and how slow he is to make decisions. Makashima tells him that Onoda is the type of person who needs to take time to make a decision, but once he does, he’s eager and straightforward. Makashima tells Imaizumi that when times like that arise, he should wait for Onoda to make his decision.

Imaizumi takes this to heart, and pretty quickly afterwards, Onoda apologizes to Imaizumi and says he needs to go ahead without him to take on Manami. Imaizumi tells him to disregard the order for the one-two finish and to chase after Manami. With this, Onoda moves ahead and closes the gap. Manami and Onoda have a conversation, and they realize they both feel the same way about having their promised race right before the finish line. After they talk and laugh, they’re determined to turn these final two kilometers into their promised race.

At this point, I realized that the series still has another five or episodes to go. The last episode would likely focus on what happens after the race, but that’s still about four more episodes to cover those final two kilometers. I wondered how this would work, and I think I got my answer at the end of the episode. The episode ends with Manami referencing an encounter he had with Onoda at an aquarium back in the spring, and the next episode title makes a reference to this event. I’m guessing that at least part of next week’s episode will be a flashback to this encounter at the aquarium, so that will help kill some time. Considering this is a rematch between Onoda and Manami after their race for the finish line at the previous year’s Inter-High, I wonder if we’ll also be seeing a lot of flashbacks to their previous race as a way to fill up time.

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