Jessica Sanchez came close. So did Adam Lambert. Both were Idol runnersup. Now a pair of 21-year old wannabee vocal superstars represent San Diego’s last chance of winning the title of the next American Idol.

Stephany Negrete

Stephany Negrete

As Idol winds its way toward an April 7 finale of its 15th and last season, Stephany Negrete (Granite Hills High) and Avalon Young (Serra High) find themselves three steps along the journey to the title. On Thursday night’s taped show, both were featured as they made it through the second or “Group” portion of Hollywood Week.

“I’ll say one thing, you can really sing,” Idol judge Harry Connick, Jr. commented to Young after her performance on Thursday. The former sandwich shop employee tried out for Idol one other time and didn’t get beyond this round. “But I know this is it,” she said in a phone interview Thursday. “No more Idol after this season but no matter what I’m pursuing music as a career.” She now lives in Tierrasanta.

Avalon Young

Avalon Young

Negrete, currently a student at Cuyamaca CC, is also in her second Idol go-round after gaining initial acceptance during an audition at San Francisco’s Cow Palace. “I learned a lot from the first time when I was cut during the Hollywood week. I think I’m a much better singer now,” said the El Cajon resident.

Amid declining ratings, including another dip this week, Idol announced after last season that this year would be its last. The show continues next Wednesday as the countdown to a Top 24 goes on. Idol will be live when the list dwindles to a Top 10 by mid-March.