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Sarah Dalton dedicated the last year of her life to teaching second grade in Palau, Micronesia.

This past week, the 2009 Central Valley Christian Academy graduate had a memorable outing while competing in the Stanislaus County Fair Destruction Derby II-Metal Mayhem event at Food Maxx Arena.

"It's definitely something I've been looking forward to," Dalton said. "I almost didn't get to do it this year because I was scheduled to have ACL surgery. Luckily, I got it moved to another day."

Sarah piloted her black, yellow and white 1977 AMC Pacer Station Wagon to a first-place finish in the Compact Division on Tuesday, July 19. Dalton took home a trophy and $600 check.

"Hearing my name over the loudspeaker was awesome," Dalton said. "I got on top of my car and jumped up and down. It was really fun."

The Ceres father-daughter tandem of Greg ($250) and Karlie ($100) Mathews placed 2-3.

Relative Teryn Mathews ($50) took fourth.

Dalton outlasted five other drivers.

"I didn't have a strategy," Sarah said. "I just wanted to get really hard hits and take everybody out."

Dalton made her fourth appearance at the Stanislaus County Destruction Derby.

She did not place in 2010. Her radiator exploded midway through the Powder Puff Division competition.

She placed fourth two years ago.

"I usually don't get nervous until the day of the race," Sarah said. "It's definitely an adrenaline rush. I know what to expect now so it's not as scary. I know where to hit and what to look for. It takes skill and a little luck."

Dalton worked with 22 children from eight different countries while serving as a Walla Walla University missionary overseas.

"It was a really cool experience," she said. "They're focused on what's truly important in life. They don't need anything."

Dalton will start nursing school at Loma Linda University this September.

Time permitting in 2012, Sarah will vie for another first-place trophy at the Stanislaus County Fair.

"Summers and derbies go together," Sarah said. "I'm hoping to compete in powder puff next year."