CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago cross country runners will finally race at their long-awaited sectionals.

At the Daley Center late Friday afternoon, a Cook County judge heard an emergency motion to let runners into their competition — this after the Illinois High School Association ruled against the runners earlier in the day.

“Why is an exception made for football teams to compete when it’s not made for individual sports, like cross country,” said Judge Neil Cohen. “You’re cherry-picking who you waive policies for.”

Judge Cohen added, “not allowing the runners to compete would cause irreparable harm.”

On Friday morning, the IHSA ruled against CPS cross country runners, saying they should not be granted special permission to run, even though the Chicago teachers’ strike removed their eligibility.

Attorneys for the runners from Jones Prep filed an emergency injunction claiming that the IHSA should be forced to let them run, arguing last week’s motion ruled that safety would be a concern, but with full-staff back on the job, that concern is gone.

Ian Bacon, a senior runner for Jones Prep, said he felt great to hear about the last-minute decision.

“Now we get the opportunity we’ve been looking for this entire time,” Bacon said. “We genuinely thought there was no chance after the appeal was denied. We didn’t think there was any possibility we were gonna be able to run sectionals.”

For Kevin Sterling, owner of the Sterling Law Office, this fight was personal — he’s also the father of a Jones Prep runner.

“It’s about all these kids. I know what my son did, I know what his teammates have done and I know what our coaches built out of this program. The ruling today, I’m overwhelmed,” Sterling said. “I said, ‘There’s no time left on the clock. This is our last chance.’ And frankly, we came here today really with nothing to lose.”

Sterling said he was pleased with the results not just for Jones, but for all the runners in CPS.

An attorney for the IHSA, Charles A. LeMoine didn’t say much after the judge’s ruling and wouldn’t comment on whether the IHSA would revisit its policies for individual sports.