South Tampa’s Janell Wheeler was the first person to be told on Thursday that her American Idol dream was over.

It didn’t really come as a surprise to her.

“I am a very hopeful person,” Wheeler said during a Friday conference call. “But I had that feeling inside of me on Thursday … I told my parents I don’t have a good feeling about today. I didn’t get the worst or the best comments. I was sort of in the in-between zone.”

That zone left her standing there on the AI stage with fellow contestant Katie Stevens. One was going home and one was staying.

As it turned out Wheeler was ousted and instead of preparing this weekend for next week’s show she’ll be at her folks Orlando home enjoying a barbeque.

“My most memorable moment was elimination night,” she admitted. “I was proud of the way I went out with poise and as a class act. I sang my song better than I did the first time I did it.”

So, what did she think of the Top 24 experience?

“Nerves … it is so different live. The band is loud. We don’t know how the sound works yet.

“I needed a better concept of the stage, the sound and my vocals. It was difficult to grasp that. For a lot of us it was our first time in that situation.

“My advice for others? Anyone who dreams it, do it. I never thought I had what it took. But I’m glad I did it. I’m just so excited to be a part of this Amiercan Idol family. I still pinch myself. The worst thing you can get from this is to make friends and make contacts.

“I might try to do it again although I got really far in the competition. I prepared as much I could when I got the ticket to Hollywood. Basically I was starting from scratch.

“Right now I have no hard feelings for anyone. I was blessed and honored to be here.”

Following, thanks to, is a link to Janell’s Top 24 interview: